Dear WestCoast Community,
This fall, I joined a Blue Ribbon Commission tasked with informing state policy to improve the response to children who are commercially sexually exploited. Convened by Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley through the Human Exploitation and Trafficking (H.E.A.T.) Institute, the Commission is comprised of 14 leaders from child welfare, education, criminal justice, health, and other nonprofits across California. Through seven regional hearings, the Commission has heard testimony on the strengths and gaps in our current system of care for exploited youth. Our work will culminate in a final report with recommendations to policy makers for a comprehensive system to respond to the commercial sexual exploitation of children.
Last Thursday, WestCoast staff were invited to present the continuum of our work to address commercial sexual exploitation at the final hearing. TAYS Program Director Yvette MacDonald and Assistant Program Director Adela Rodarte presented the skillful work of C-Change, and illustrated the individual and systemic challenges to serving exploited youth. Hannah Haley, Policy & Communications Associate, followed with the importance of screening and early identification, updates on implementation of the Commercial Sexual Exploitation-Identification Tool (CSE-IT), and early data from our pilot. Policy & Communications Director, Jodie Langs concluded by describing how our policy priorities are informed by the work of our clinical team.
All were inspiring and impressive, as they wove in the day-to-day realities our clients face and the nature of our work navigating the system barriers, disparities, and injustices that occur daily. The commissioners and audience were visibly moved by WestCoast’s testimony.