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Foster parents to get training to combat child sex trafficking

Foster parents to get training to combat child sex trafficking
The "March Against Sex Trafficking," sponsored by Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, drew hundreds of people to Western Avenue in South Los Angeles in April. (Sandy Banks / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles County supervisors voted Tuesday to create a new training program for foster parents and group home staff to help them identify and help children who might be victims of sex trafficking.

The county created a task force in November 2012 to deal with the issue of youth in the foster care system being recruited or forced into the sex trade.

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Statistics from the county probation department at that time showed that 59% of youths arrested on prostitution-related charges countywide in 2010 were in the foster care system, and county officials said in some cases, pimps recruited girls from group homes.

The supervisors voted Tuesday to ask county staff to work with local colleges and universities to develop a training program that will become mandatory for foster care providers.

"The county should move as quickly as possible to help safeguard the county’s most vulnerable population from being sexually exploited," Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Don Knabe wrote in a memo to their colleagues. 

County officials said state funds may be available to carry out the training. Staff will report back in 60 days on the costs to implement the training countywide.

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