Dear WestCoast Community,
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month. For commercially sexually exploited youth, these issues are combined. The WestCoast approach to raising awareness is to combine knowledge with action and advocacy. This week we’ll be in Sacramento to urge legislators to pass a bill that WestCoast and other advocates have crafted: SB 738: Sexually Exploited and Trafficked Minors.
Introduced by Senator Yee, this bill takes critical steps toward enacting the comprehensive response that we all know is needed. Specifically, SB 738:
- Clarifies that commercial sexual exploitation is child abuse, ensuring that victims of exploitation have access to services in the dependency system.
- Directs the California Health and Human Services Agency to convene an interagency workgroup that will be responsible for assessing the adequacy of the systems and services available to meet the unique needs of sexually exploited youth.
- Charges the workgroup with developing a coordinated plan to fill system gaps and recommend policy changes where necessary.
The power of combining clinical services, research and policy:
- Our advocacy starts with our C-Change staff, who work directly with sexually exploited youth. They keep us informed of the systemic barriers they face in serving their clients. C-Change staff also collect the key data needed to quantify some of the problems we need to address.
- Research staff aggregate and analyze this data, giving us the evidence we need to support our policy arguments.
- Policy staff highlight the importance of these numbers by speaking to the daily circumstances C-Change clients face in order the demonstrate how critical passing SB 738 is to improving protections for sexually exploited youth.
Status of SB 738:
The bill passed out of the Health and Human Services Committee, 5-0 last Tuesday, and will be heard by the Judiciary Committee tomorrow, Tuesday April 30.
How you can help:
Constituent calls to elected representatives are highly effective. Is Senator Mark Leno or Senator Ellen Corbett your representative? If so, please give them a call and urge them to vote yes on SB 738. Outside of the Bay Area? Other Judiciary Committee members include:
- Senator Noreen Evans (Chair)
- Senator Mimi Walters (Vice Chair)
- Senator Joel Anderson
- Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson
- Senator Bill Monning
To find your representative, go to the Legislature’s district locator.