A message from ECPAT USA:

ECPAT-USA recognizes May as National Foster Care Month

There are many experiences and circumstances that make a child more vulnerable to trafficking and exploitation. During National Foster Care Month, ECPAT-USA wants to recognize the specific risks that children in the child welfare system face and also uplift foster parents, families, and caregivers for their selflessness during a critical time in a young person’s life. In addition to highlighting these issues, it is imperative that we also prioritize the needs of children and youth in foster care.

Foster care is intended to be a temporary situation for youth; however, that’s not the case for all. On average there are 400,000 children in the system each year, which means the advocacy community, stakeholders, and legislators must remain dedicated to increasing funding for federal programs administered to support families and children during uncertain times.

Those in the child welfare system are at an increased risk of exploitation, which is due in part to adverse childhood experiences and the impermanence of foster care. Studies have found that between 50% to more than 90% of children and youth victims of child sex trafficking have been involved with child welfare services. We must invest in comprehensive trauma-informed care to meet the needs of this population in order to protect these kids from predators who seek to exploit the vulnerabilities created by these experiences.

To that end, ECPAT-USA supports legislation aimed at addressing current gaps in community and federal responses. Over the years, Congress has funded transformative legislation aimed at helping youth at risk of and/or experiencing homelessness. The federal legislative response includes:

  • The Runaway Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) has the capacity to support both transitioned-aged foster youth and CSEC youth. There are three pillars that are foundational to RHYA, which include street outreach, basic center (provides temporary shelter, counseling, family reunification services, and aftercare services), and transitional living. The RHYA is currently up for reauthorization.
  • Family First Prevention Services Act: The Family First Prevention Services Act was signed into law on February 9, 2018. This bill reformed federal child welfare funding streams in order to help support and stabilize families before children enter the foster care system.
  • Family First Transition Act: This act was signed in the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2020 and makes it easier for states to fund services that have the ability to prevent foster care and keep families together.
  • Promoting Safe and Stable Families (PSSF): The goal of this legislation is to prevent child maltreatment, help children remain safe with their families, promote permanency for children in foster care, and remove barriers to child safety. PSSF works with state agencies to implement services for at-risk families and children.

During both National Foster Care Month and throughout the year, ECPAT-USA is committed to ensuring safe and stable connections for foster youth by collaborating with lawmakers and advocates.



Join ECPAT-USA for a conversation on the impact of the model minority myth on human trafficking within the AAPI Community. The discussion will feature Minh Dang, Executive Director of Survivor Alliance; Hamida Yusufzai, Program Manager, Banteay Srei; and Yvonne Chen, Director of Private Sector Engagement, ECPAT-USA. Register now.