Dear WestCoast Community:
We congratulate Governor Brown on Friday’s historic action: For the first time, the California state budget includes dedicated funding to serve and protect child sex trafficking victims through the child welfare system.
WestCoast Children’s Clinic has worked closely with a coalition of advocates calling for dedicated resources to serve child victims of sexual exploitation. Commercial sexual exploitation—selling children for sex—is a problem that deserves our utmost attention. California’s government has a fundamental responsibility to protect our children, and the Governor and state policymakers have taken a critical first step in doing just that.
The 2014-15 State Budget includes $5 million, and $14 million thereafter, to provide the services outlined in the newly created Commercially Sexually Exploited Children Program.
Of equal importance, SB 855, the budget trailer bill also clarified in statute that a child who is sexually trafficked is a victim of child abuse. Currently, exploited youth are frequently arrested and treated as criminals rather than given the services they need to escape and recover from severe trauma. We applaud the Governor and Legislature for affirming that children should not be incarcerated for a crime that was perpetrated against them.
Thank you for joining us to advocate on behalf of sexually exploited youth. Your emails to the Governor, Tweets and spreading the word demonstrated the broad public support we needed to achieve this success.