HHS Strengthens Prevention of Human Trafficking and Support for Survivors

US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The White House recently released the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking, recognizing the impact of human trafficking on public health, public safety, and national security. The Action Plan’s comprehensive framework reaffirms the U.S. government’s commitment to preventing and responding to human trafficking, emphasizing the importance of collaboration to ensure short- and long-term well-being.

The updated National Action Plan integrates the Biden-Harris Administration’s wider commitment to gender and racial equity. It calls particular attention to the underlying social determinants of health that create disproportionate risk for trafficking among communities of color, women and girls, LGBTQI+ individuals, and populations more susceptible to exploitation. It also addresses the unmet needs of migrant workers in global supply chains who have experienced labor trafficking, further exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic. The anti-trafficking efforts outlined in the National Action Plan are directly linked to wider federal efforts of eliminating inequities for these underserved populations.

HHS commitments to enhance the public health response to human trafficking include mitigating risks and strengthening protections at individual, relational, and community levels. The HHS Administration for Children and Families (ACF) promotes the economic and social well-being of many populations impacted by human trafficking including individuals who have experienced child maltreatment and interpersonal violence, youth and adults experiencing housing and financial instability, unaccompanied children and refugees, and indigenous and historically underserved communities.

“There is no place for human trafficking in America. [The] investment will ensure we’re taking the critical step of investing not only to support survivors but working to prevent human trafficking altogether. We look forward to collaborating with our federal partners, people with lived experience, community-based organizations, and others as we implement the National Action Plan,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra.

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“HHS commitments in the National Action Plan reflect responsiveness to recommendations from survivors of human trafficking and how we must strengthen access to support the most underserved communities across our country. The Department-wide response is part of our larger efforts to make progress on social and health equity for all,” said Assistant Secretary for Health Admiral Rachel Levine.

“At ACF, we know that human trafficking is a threat to the most vulnerable among us. The National Action Plan reaffirms our commitment to preventing human trafficking and establishing new partnerships to overcome persistent challenges. Our program offices will work across HHS to address the unique needs of the diverse children, families, and communities we serve,” said ACF Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary JooYeun Chang.

HHS actions work to ensure program offices and health and human service professionals can identify and respond to the needs of individuals who are at-risk or who have experienced trafficking. HHS will provide trauma-informed training and technical assistance to agency staff and partners, strengthen screening tools and referral protocols, design more inclusive service programs, and expand prevention efforts. Specific HHS actions outlined in the National Action Plan include:

  • Enhance community-coordinated response to human trafficking of youth through grants, programs, training, resources, and partnerships.
  • Establish and implement a National Human Trafficking Prevention Action Plan.
  • Provide information and facilitate discussions about forced labor in public health supply chains.
  • Work with social media and technology industry on the development of innovative efforts to prevent human trafficking
  • Strengthen two-generation approaches to strengthen economic self-sufficiency through early childhood development, postsecondary and employment pathways, social capital, and economic assets.
  • Increase access to mental health and other healthcare services, including developing outreach campaigns that stress the importance of mental health and well-being.
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The National Action Plan is available at White House Fact Sheet: National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking.

For more information on HHS commitments, visit Information Memo: HHS Priority Actions in the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking

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