In commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, the Obama Administration reaffirmed the American values of freedom and equality by asking federal agencies to develop a plan to strengthen services for victims of human trafficking. Coordination, Collaboration, Capacity, the Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking in the United States, 2013-2017 (the Plan) embraces these principles and builds on the progress that our Nation has made in combating human trafficking and modern day forms of slavery through government action, as well as partnerships with allied professionals and concerned citizens.
As our understanding of the scope and impact of human trafficking evolved over the years, we now recognize a more complex web of exploitation affecting diverse communities across the country. Today, we acknowledge that human trafficking affects U.S. citizens and foreign nationals, adults and children, and men, women, and transgender individuals who are victimized across a wide range of commercial sex and forced labor schemes. This Plan details a series of coordinated actions to strengthen the reach and effectiveness of services provided to all victims of human trafficking, regardless of the victims’ race, color, national origin, disability, religion, age, gender, immigration status, sexual orientation, or the type of trafficking they endured.
The purpose of this Plan is to describe the steps that federal agencies will take to ensure that all victims of human trafficking in the United States are identified and have access to the services they need to recover. This includes steps to create a victim services network that is comprehensive, trauma-informed, and responsive to the needs of all victims. While prevention and prosecution activities fall outside the scope of this document, the Administration recognizes that addressing human trafficking through prevention, exploring and implementing demand reduction strategies, and using prosecution to hold offenders accountable are critical elements in the U.S. Government’s comprehensive approach to combating all forms of human trafficking. The Plan focuses on providing and coordinating support for victims and it aligns with all other efforts of the Federal Government to eliminate human trafficking and prevent further victimization, particularly as outlined in the Attorney General’s Annual Report to Congress and Assessment of U.S. Government Activities to Combat Trafficking in Persons.
The Plan identifies several “core values” (page 9) related to trafficking victims’ services and key areas for improving service delivery. Recognizing that government alone cannot stop this insidious crime, the Plan is written to appeal to a wide audience in order to bring additional resources, expertise, and partnerships to end human trafficking and better support victims. For example, public awareness must be increased to engage more stakeholders and increase victim identification. There must also be an expansion of access to victim services. Finally, the quality of the services, not merely the quantity, must be addressed to ensure that victims are supported throughout their long-term journey as survivors.
The Plan lays out four goals, eight objectives, and contains more than 250 associated action items for victim service improvements that can be achieved during the next 5 years. Federal agencies will coordinate efforts and work toward each of these goals simultaneously. Actions to improve victim identification are woven through each of the goals. The four goals are:
1. ALIGN EFFORTS:
Promote a strategic, coordinated approach to the provision of services for victims of human trafficking at the federal, regional, state, territorial, tribal, and local levels. (page 11)
2. IMPROVE UNDERSTANDING:
Expand and coordinate human trafficking-related research, data, and evaluation to support evidence-based practices in victim services. (page 18)
3. EXPAND ACCESS TO SERVICES:
Provide and promote outreach, training, and technical assistance to increase victim identification and expand the availability of services. (page 24)
4. IMPROVE OUTCOMES:
Promote effective, culturally appropriate, trauma-informed services that improve the short- and long-term health, safety, and well-being of victims. (page 38)
Federal Strategic Action Plan 2
While the Plan relies on the framework of the current budget and existing statutory authority, there are several actions included that federal agencies would like to take in the future should funding become available. A timeline for completion of each action and the responsible federal agency is included in
Traditionally, individual federal agencies provide support to victims within their particular areas of responsibility. Coordinating anti-human trafficking efforts at the federal level is crucial to ensuring victims receive comprehensive services. Additionally, federal support will encourage regional, state, territorial, tribal, and local leaders to increase their engagement in and commitment to combating both sex trafficking and labor trafficking and supporting the victims of these crimes. To build community capacity for truly improved victim outreach and services, federal agencies will engage business, philanthropic, and civic leaders, thereby bringing the full expertise and resources of the country to bear in this effort.
The interagency development of the Plan, informed by survivor and stakeholder input and the coordination of current action items, may be the most important aspect of this Plan. A list of the organizations that provided written feedback on the Plan is included in Appendix C. No single federal agency has the expertise, resources, or authorization to address fully the needs of human trafficking victims in the United States; however, by pooling the diverse efforts of the entire Federal Government and working closely with service providers and allied professionals, great progress can be made in the next 5 years.
Continued engagement among federal partners, stakeholders, and communities is needed to truly make the vision of a comprehensive, trauma-informed, and sustainable victim service response a reality. Federal partners, in coordination with the Senior Policy Operating Group, will continue to meet regularly to implement the actions detailed within the Plan and review progress made. Federal partners will also assess the gaps in the Plan and develop collaborative strategies to address identified needs. Federal agencies are committed to maintaining this Plan as a living document, serving as a roadmap for future initiatives.