Maryland’s Child Trafficking Protocols
There are stories of survival, stories of forgiveness, and stories of triumph over adversity. There are horrific stories with gut-wrenching endings. Some call it modern-day slavery; some call it a public health menace. At the core of each story is a child who is often already vulnerable to negative and dangerous influences, often lured into a seemingly secure relationship or friendship, possibly kidnapped, groomed, trafficked, sexually abused, and misused in a commercial sex act.
In Maryland, child advocacy centers (referred to as CACs) have worked with child victims of abuse, including trafficking, for over thirty years. In the 2019 Maryland legislative session, a law was passed codifying the Standards of Accreditation for local agencies to call themselves CACs. Now, in collaboration with other partners, we are beginning to understand the depth and breadth of the many problems unique to child trafficking, and the needs of CACs to best serve these victims. In collaboration with federal, state, and local agencies and partners, we are coming together to understand the complexity of the problem from the child victim’s vantage point, to work together among the CAC network, to create protocols, and provide trainings to effectuate greater understanding of how best to serve our children.
On August 9, 2018, Governor Larry Hogan announced initiatives to combat human trafficking in Maryland. He declared that, “To ensure Maryland is identifying and providing services to child victims of human trafficking, the Child Advocacy Center Best Practices Workgroup, co-staffed by the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention, the Maryland Children’s Alliance, and the Department of Human Services, is researching and developing a protocol to identify and provide services to child human trafficking victims for Child Advocacy Centers. This will broaden the types of services for child victims using a trauma-informed approach.”
To meet this goal, Maryland Children’s Alliance (referred to as MCA), in partnership with the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention (referred to as GOCCP) and the Department of Human Services (referred to as DHS), has adapted the National Standards for Accredited Members authored by National Children’s Alliance (referred to as NCA) to help local CACs and their multidisciplinary team partners meet the unique needs of, and circumstances around, child trafficking victims and cases.
You can download a copy of the Adapted Protocols for Child Trafficking.