Governor Greg Abbott today announced more than $18 million in awards to state, local, public, and private organizations to address the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) and adults in Texas. These awards will help fund local and statewide anti-trafficking efforts to protect children, investigate and prosecute traffickers, recover victims, and help survivors to heal.
“The state of Texas will not tolerate the inhumane practices carried out by these coercive and manipulative criminals,” said Governor Abbott. “We will ensure serious penalties for human traffickers and continuously look for ways to better serve victims. Working together, we will reach our goal of eradicating human trafficking from Texas.”
These grant awards support evidence-based, trauma-responsive, and victim-centered projects to strengthen Texas’ response to trafficking – including over $8 million in residential services such as emergency shelters and long term residential treatment centers. These projects are in accordance with the Governor’s five-part strategy including:
Protecting Children and Youth by providing age-appropriate prevention education to youth; supporting targeted interventions to reduce the vulnerability of high-risk youth; equipping adults with the knowledge and skills to recognize risks and respond effectively; and disrupting the market for victims by deterring potential buyers and decreasing demand.
Recognizing Victims by raising awareness of CSEC in all its forms – exploitation by pimps, gangs, family members, and buyers; implementing the Commercial Sexual Exploitation – Identification Tool (CSE-IT) statewide to proactively identify victims; and ensuring that victims are recognized as victims and not perpetrators.
Recovering Victims by developing specialized emergency placements and services including specialized advocates for recovered children and youth; training all stakeholders to provide victim centered, trauma informed responses; and developing local care coordination teams to coordinate collaborative partner activities from law enforcement victim recovery through planning and delivery of crisis and therapeutic services.
Restoring Victims by developing specialized drop-in centers; building the capacity of state child welfare and juvenile justice systems and the private agencies that care these children; and developing accessible community services and supports, including long-term placements for survivors.
Bringing Justice for Victims by providing training and resources to criminal justice partners; empowering victim participation in investigations and prosecutions; and combating emerging methods of exploiting children including sextortion.
Included among the grant recipients are the following four counties:
Bexar County: $280,071.00
Dallas County: $232,261.00
Harris County: $1,713,377.05
Tarrant County: $164,057.00
The Governor’s Criminal Justice Division (CJD) and Child Sex Trafficking Team (CSTT), operating within the Public Safety Office (PSO) and administer all trafficking-related grant programs. All projects funded were selected based on applicant screening by PSO, merit panel reviews and other factors including cost effectiveness, overall funds availability, legislative and PSO strategies, and geographic distribution.