Last year, there were 584 referrals to the Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS) of Commercially-Sexually Exploited Children, also known as CSEC. According to the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (also known as CAST), of the 81 new minors and TAY who were victims of sex trafficking and were served by CAST last year, 31 reported that they were also experiencing homelessness. While funding exists to provide housing to youth identified as CSEC, there is a shortage of dedicated housing. In response, today the Board of Supervisors approved a motion authored by Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, and co-authored by Supervisor Janice Hahn, that directs County Departments to report back with a plan to create more housing placement options with a continuum of supports for youth identified as, or at risk of, CSEC.

“For many years, this Board of Supervisors and our County Departments have worked to prevent exploitation, hold exploiters accountable, and address the needs of youth identified as CSEC while breaking down societal stigmas,” said Supervisor Solis. “Despite this progress, there is not enough housing to support youth identified as CSEC and to prevent additional trauma. By focusing on efforts to improve housing for this vulnerable population, and ensuring that impacted youth have a voice in shaping their futures, we can develop an array of supportive housing options to meet their needs, ensure their stability, and give them every opportunity to succeed.”

Los Angeles County is expanding a continuum of housing options for youth in the foster care and probation systems. Through a motion authored by Supervisor Solis and approved by the Board of Supervisors on November 20, 2018, the County is poised to have 33% more transitional housing for 18 to 21-year old foster youth (called Transitional Housing Placement Program for Non-Minor Dependents or THPP-NMD) and 50% more transitional housing for 18 to 25-year old former foster youth (called Transitional Housing Program-Plus or THP+) this year.

The Los Angeles County Integrated Leadership Team (ILT), consisting of DCFS, the Probation Department, and the Sheriff’s Department, works to serve youth identified as CSEC. This collaboration has ensured the safety and well-being of these vulnerable youth through 24/7 crisis intervention, increased employability through vocational training, and other opportunities for young people to achieve success. The County has allocated Healthier Communities, Stronger Families, Thriving Children (HST) funding to support youth identified as CSEC. However, the County’s housing allocation for these youth remains unspent despite a shortage of dedicated housing.

“These young people have experienced unimaginable trauma and they have a hard road ahead of them as survivors,” said Supervisor Hahn. “We can help them by providing innovative and flexible housing options that fit their unique needs.”

Today’s motion directs the Chief Executive Office, DCFS, the Sheriff’s Department, the Office of Youth Diversion and Development, and interested stakeholders with lived experience to report back in 60 days on the current funding levels for HST, how HST has been allocated for the past and current fiscal years, and provide recommendations for maximizing the allocation of HST dedicated to housing for youth identified as CSEC. The motion also instructs that the report back include a long-term funding plan to identify ongoing funding that ensures the continued operation of housing for youth identified as CSEC without disrupting existing critical services. Today’s action also supports state and federal advocacy to support LA County’s Extended Foster Care program.