For Immediate Release: June 23, 2015
Contact: Elizabeth DenBleyker, (714) 541-7734
COUNTY PLAN APPROVED TO ADDRESS COMMERCIALLY SEXUALLY EXPLOITED CHILD POPULATION
SANTA ANA, CA- On June 23, 2015, the Orange County Board of Supervisors approved a County Plan that will allow the County of Orange Social Services Agency (SSA) to continue to further develop and provide collaborative services to address the needs of Orange County’s Commercially Sexually Exploited Child (CSEC) population and access State funding in support of this program.
The plight of commercially sexually exploited children has gained national attention over recent years. The victims are in many ways like other children whom Orange County serves; however, they have unique needs that require coordination and support from varied systems including mental health, public health, law enforcement, juvenile court, community providers and probation. Responding to CSEC requires a multi-pronged response that includes prevention, intervention and after care. These coordinated efforts will maximize resources and put into place a comprehensive system that prevents youth from returning to the streets and ultimately promotes safety, permanency and well-being.
In 2014, Senate Bill 855 established a state-funded county program to serve the needs of the CSEC population. Through this program, Orange County is working to unite various government agencies, community service providers and CSEC survivors toward early identification of victims through ongoing trauma-informed case management services. The goal of this approach is not only to provide services to current victims, but to identify and intervene with those at high risk of future exploitation. This coordinated interagency approach will provide for identification, education, intervention, placement and treatment, thus assuring the multi-faceted needs of CSEC victims are met.
“It is critically important for us to decriminalize these youth and recognize that they are victims. This County Plan will allow us to access additional resources from the State in order to better coordinate and address the needs of these youth,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Todd Spitzer.
On May 27, 2015, the Orange County CSEC Steering Committee was formed, co-chaired by Board of Supervisors Chairman Todd Spitzer, Presiding Judge of the Orange County Juvenile Court Maria Hernandez and Director of SSA’s Children and Family Services Gary Taylor. Under the approved County Plan, the Steering Committee will meet regularly to assist in the development of the CSEC Interagency Protocol and provide oversight to the project to ensure that County agencies and partners effectively collaborate to better identify and serve youth who are at risk of or who have been commercially sexually exploited.
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