Of the 79,000 child sex trafficking victims estimated to be in the state, the vast majority were in foster care or had previous contact with Child Protective Services, according to a recent University of Texas study."It's very easy for a trafficker to prey on those specific kids," said Dixie Hairston, who leads anti-sex-trafficking efforts in North Texas for the nonprofit advocacy group Children At Risk. These kids are not being kept safe." In Texas, the state agency responsible for protecting them is in crisis.In fifth grade, Jean's father claimed he would begin home-schooling her. Periodically, in an attempt to dodge child welfare investigators, Jean's father packed up and moved, dragging her from Oklahoma to Arkansas to Texas.Instead, he took her into a bedroom and blindfolded her, telling her she was going to have sex with a boy she liked. By the time they landed in Paris, Texas, in 2009, the 13-year-old was pregnant with his child.
Eighty-six percent of runaway children in the United States suspected of being forced into sex work came from the child welfare system, according to a 2016 analysis of cases reported to the National Center on Missing and Exploited Children.
"It's always about funding — we know that," said Hank Whitman, the child welfare chief, during a tense exchange at a recent Senate budget hearing.
"We either pay now, or we pay later." "We gave you the money you asked for," said Jane Nelson, a Republican from Flower Mound and the Senate's chief budget writer.
After her father raped her, Jean became one of the roughly 12,000 Texas kids in long-term foster care, a system that often leaves children more damaged than when they arrive. DALLAS — At 16, Jean was the more experienced sex worker in the Southeast Dallas house.
It was her job to ensure the new girl's trial run as a prostitute went smoothly.
Investigators did not attempt to locate more than half of those kids within the 24 hours required by law. State leaders recently approved a pay raise to keep existing caseworkers on the job and signed off on a plan to hire more than 800 new ones.