A new law requires Louisiana authorities to refer all reports of suspected child trafficking to the state Department of Children and Family Services. Its director told lawmakers Thursday that the DCFS-commissioned reporting hotline has handled 78 youth trafficking calls this year, the vast majority of which involved sex trafficking.
Of the cases that authorities have had to report to the DFCS since Jan. 1, 69 involved child trafficking and nine involved child trafficking, DCFS Secretary Terri Ricks told the Senate Committee on Women and Children. A total of 89 victims were reported via the hotline.
Ricks cited figures compiled by DCFS on Monday, March 13.
DFCS staff have opened investigations into 39 cases involving parents or carers. Victims and their families will also be connected to support services in coordination with the governor’s office on human trafficking, Ricks said.
In addition to the 78 cases reported since Jan. 1, Ricks said DCFS has also received additional information on nine previous child trafficking cases through its hotline.
Sen. Beth Mizell, R-Franklinton, authored legislation last year directing DCFS to expand its human trafficking hotline to take all calls involving trafficking in minors. Previously, the department only processed cases where it was suspected that a parent or caregiver was involved in child trafficking.
Registration authorities also have to contact the police in human trafficking cases, and Ricks said her office shares intelligence with law enforcement. Mizell’s proposal was made when it became apparent that the state child protection agency was not involved in all child trafficking cases.
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