Montgomery County launches child sex trafficking recovery team


Several organizations and law enforcement agencies in Montgomery County have come together to launch a program aimed at helping child victims of sex trafficking.

“To honor each child’s right to a future free of exploitation with proactive, expedient and collaborative trauma-responsive interventions,” is the mission statement the newly formed Care Coordination will be working under, according to the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office.

Through the direction and assistance of Gov. Greg Abbott’s Child Sex Trafficking Team, Care Coordination will be spearheaded by the Conroe-based Children’s Safe Harbor social services organization and will be using resources available through different entities, according to the DA’s Office.

“Montgomery County values our children, and when a child is trafficked, we will do everything we can to help that child and bring accountability to those who traffic them,” said District Attorney Brett Ligon in a statement. “The launch of the Care Coordination program ensures that Montgomery County stays on the leading edge of the battle against child sex trafficking and all forms of child exploitation.”

In Montgomery County, the DA’s Office, the County Attorney’s Office, and Juvenile Services are being joined by the Texas Department of Family Protective Services, Texas Forensic Nurse Examiners and local law enforcement agencies. The advocacy groups BCFS and The Landing will be taking part in the program, too, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

“Children’s Safe Harbor will lead this team and will oversee the coordination of services from the time a child victim is identified and recovered from a sex trafficking situation, through the criminal and CPS investigations, and until the child has been discharged from the program,” read a statement from the DA’s Office.

Advocates will be assigned to children recovered from trafficking or at risk, guiding each child through the investigation process and providing him or her with resources from the broader team. A group consisting of officers, prosecutors, CPS, advocates and Children’s Safe Harbor personnel will meet within 24 hours of recovery, mapping out a plan for the child, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

Children will be released from the program once investigations and their follow-up care are done, the DA’s Office noted.

Care Coordination took months to launch with the collaborative efforts of many, according to Assistant District Attorney Laura Bond. In a statement, she praised Janet Kasper, the Child Sex Trafficking Team’s east Texas regional administrator, for heading up the implementation of Care Coordination.

“Together we pledge to work diligently and tirelessly for the sake of the safety of our children,” Bond said in a statement.

jose.gonzalez@chron.com

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