For Immediate Release: September 2, 2015
Contact: Elizabeth DenBleyker, (714) 541-7734
Orange County Avows Commitment to Address Commercially Sexually Exploited Children
SANTA ANA, CA- The Orange County Board of Supervisors approved a resolution affirming the commitment of the County of Orange to address the significant needs of the county’s Commercially Sexually Exploited Children (CSEC) population. This is the second action by the Board of Supervisors in recent months that demonstrates Orange County’s commitment to work collaboratively to identify, protect and serve these vulnerable children and youth.
“Protecting and helping children to recover from sexual exploitation is a critical need in Orange County and in our overall society,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Todd Spitzer. “Crisis intervention, medical treatment and counseling are just a few of the crucial issues that demand our resources. I’m proud to serve on the Commercially Sexually Exploited Children Steering Committee and that the Board of Supervisors are committed to helping kids in crisis.”
In addition, August 26, 2015 marked the second convening of Orange County’s Commercially Sexually Exploited Children (CSEC) Steering Committee, co-chaired by Orange County Board of Supervisors Chairman, Todd Spitzer, Presiding Judge of the Orange County Juvenile Court, Maria Hernandez and Director of the Orange County Social Services Agency’s Children and Family Services Division, Gary Taylor. The CSEC Steering Committee is an integral component of the broader County CSEC Plan, approved by the Orange County Board of Supervisors on June 23, 2015, with the goal of uniting various County agencies, community service providers and survivors toward the early identification of victims through ongoing trauma-informed case management services.
“It is an incredible privilege to co-chair a steering committee comprised of some of the most diverse and dynamic individuals in our county who all share a common passion and vision for our most vulnerable youth,” said Presiding Judge of the Juvenile Court Maria Hernandez. “Inspiring hope within this population while developing a methodology to provide early identification, intervention and protection for our children will create the unified hedge that will allow our children to thrive and prevent exposure to the risks of sexual exploitation, drugs and criminal acts and victimization. This committee is forward thinking and driven by the mission of being charged with the most important obligation one could have – caring for our children.”
The growing, complex crisis facing commercially sexually exploited children continues to gain national attention. The victims have unique and multifaceted 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. In 2014, Senate Bill 855 established a state-funded county program to serve the needs of the CSEC population, out of which were established Orange County’s CSEC County Plan and the Orange County CSEC Steering Committee. The Steering Committee will meet regularly to assist in the development of CSEC Interagency Protocol and provide valuable 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.
Members of the CSEC Steering Committee discussed items such as the implementation of immediate and ongoing services for identified victims of commercial sexual exploitation through a Multidisciplinary Team. Services may include trauma-informed crisis intervention, medical evaluation and treatment, substance abuse assessment and counseling, therapeutic support and the engagement of family members in the intervention process. The Committee also explored options for long-term support and stabilization for CSEC youth, including referrals to community programs and a possible shelter and drop-in center designed to specifically meet the needs of CSEC youth.
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