ACS is committed to identifying and helping sex and labor trafficked children and youth achieve safety and obtain resources to help them heal and thrive. ACS established the Office of Child Trafficking Prevention & Policy (OCTPP) to provide guidance for work with this vulnerable population. OCTPP works collaboratively with involved stakeholders to provide a wide range of services to prevent trafficking and meet the needs of at-risk youth and trafficking survivors through funding from ACS and the NYS Office of Family and Children's Services' Safe Harbour Program.
The Office of Child Trafficking Prevention & Policy (OCTPP) is ACS and its provider agencies' primary resource for work with trafficked and at-risk youth. OCTPP works diligently to raise awareness of trafficking and to identify appropriate services available to help survivors, risk youth, and their families. OCTPP also administrates the NYC Safe Harbour Program, which provides guidance for all trafficked NYC youth, both within and external to the NYC child welfare and juvenile justice systems.
In 2013, the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) allocated a grant to New York City and other counties to support services mandated by the Safe Harbour Act of 2008. Susan Morley, Special Advisor to the Commissioner for Investigations, initially led the management of the grant, with assistance from several divisions. Due to the recognition of the continually increasing number of youth being identified as trafficked or using sex as a means for survival, ACS utilized some of the grant funding to hire a consultant to develop a strategic plan towards best practice work with sexually exploited children. Resultant of the plan's recommendations, in 2015, ACS appointed Selina Higgins, LCSW-R, as its inaugural Director of the Office of Child Trafficking Prevention and Policy (OCTPP), under the supervision of Susan Morley. On December 21, 2017, in recognition of the need to provide closer connection and support to the agencies that care daily for trafficked and at-risk of trafficking children, ACS relocated its Office of Child Trafficking Prevention and Policy to its Division of Family Permanency Services’ (FPS) Office of Older Youth Services, under the leadership of Assistant Commissioner Sabine Chery, with consultation available from Susan Morley. Although housed within FPS, OCTPP continues to lead all aspects of ACS' policy and practice concerning trafficked children and youth across all of ACS' divisions, programs and provider agencies.
In September 2020, ACS released its first agency-wide policy: Identifying Assessing and Safety Planning with Child Sex and Labor Trafficking Victims (ACS Policy and Procedure 2020/05) (PDF). The policy consists of 23 pages with 21 attachments, including OCTPP training handouts, relevant forms and business processes specific to all divisions and programs that screen youth for trafficking.