TOPEKA – Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) Secretary Phyllis Gilmore is pleased to announce a new partnership with Wichita State University (WSU) Center for Combating Human Trafficking to offer technical assistance to community leaders, in an effort to prevent and end human trafficking in our state.
“The Center for Combating Human Trafficking has done tremendous work on this issue,” Secretary Gilmore said. “We are eager to begin this important collaboration to better serve child victims of this long-overlooked crime.”
A one-year-long grant has been issued to the Center for Combating Human Trafficking and will serve approximately 500 professionals and community leaders, during two-day conferences held in five areas of the state (Wichita, Topeka, Great Bend, Pittsburg and Garden City). Conferences will take place from June 29 through Nov. 3.
The Center for Combating Human Trafficking’s technical assistance curriculum, created by Dr. Karen Countryman-Roswurm in partnership with staff and faculty of WSU, will incorporate specialized instruction regarding abuse and exploitation in the form of human trafficking. With an emphasis on domestic sex trafficking, topics covered will help professionals to be able to understand the true definition and various forms of trafficking, the risk factors for trafficking, those involved in the structure of trafficking, the venues in which trafficking occurs, the consequences and costs of human trafficking, the resilience factors for trafficking, and how to collaborate for the best interest of those at-risk of/or subjugated to human trafficking.
“In order to combat human trafficking, it’s essential that all sectors of the community work together to acknowledge the problem and identify solutions,” Countryman-Roswurm said.
Governor Sam Brownback made combating human trafficking a priority when in 2013, he signed into law human trafficking legislation that creates the crime of “commercial sexual exploitation of children.” Previously, child victims of this crime may have been considered prostitutes and prosecuted. The legislation also requires that when law enforcement identifies a minor who they believe is a victim of human trafficking, they must contact DCF’s Rapid Response Team. The team completes an initial assessment regarding safety, placement and treatment needs.
To date, approximately 50 youth have been screened by the Rapid Response Team since it was activated in January 2014.