Commercially Sexually Exploited Girls and Young Women Involved in Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice in Los Angeles County: An Exploration and Evaluation of Placement Experiences and Services Received

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Conducted in collaboration with the National Center for Youth Law, Cal State LA, and Los Angeles County, this first-of-its kind study explores the impact of specialized services and placement type on young people who have been commercially sexually exploited in Los Angeles County. The study examined administrative data from the Probation Department and Department of Children and Family Services, along with insights from youth in their own words through surveys and interviews. Among many findings, the study highlights:

  • the profiles of youth most vulnerable to exploitation, including significant racial disproportionality among exploited youth, and extensive histories of trauma and system involvement before their exploitation begins;

  • the impact of different placement types and specialized services on placement stability, and youth experiences and preferences among those placements and services;

  • youth’s overwhelmingly positive responses to specialized services, including probation officers and social workers specially trained to work with youth who have experienced exploitation, specialized community-based advocates, and dedicated collaborative courts;

  • the critical importance of fostering and maintaining positive, healthy, consistent relationships with well-trained, nonjudgmental staff, as well as with peers and families; and

  • the impact of creating spaces for youth to share their perspectives and experiences, and importance of providing support to youth in meeting their self-defined goals, interests and needs as whole people beyond their exploitation.