There is a growing awareness that the sex industry sometimes victimizes children.  The Federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000, along with reauthorizations in 2003, 2005, and 2008 describes a victim of human trafficking as a person induced to perform labor or a commercial sex act through force, fraud, or coercion. Any person under the age of 18 who performs a commercial sex act, is considered a victim of trafficking regardless of whether force, fraud or coercion was present.  The term used to describe these particularly vulnerable young people is Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC).    Exploiters will manipulate the needs of vulnerable youth. It is estimated that over 300,000 children and youth are exploited each year and data shows that many victims are already involved in the child welfare or juvenile justice systems. The CANS-CSE (Child and Adolescent needs and Strengths-Commercial Sexual Exploitation) is a tool used to identify, communicate and measure the needs and risks of sexually exploited children and youth.

This past fall, Florida’s Human Trafficking Clinical Workgroup recommended the adoption of the CANS-CSE as Florida’s primary assessment and planning tool to use with children who are being trafficked.  The recommendation follows the year-long efforts of a workgroup charged with identifying a tool that would meet the Florida Statue 409.1475 regarding assessment and service planning for sexually exploited children, and be compatible with the Florida DCF Human Trafficking Screening Tool.  Workgroup participants included Florida child welfare staff and providers and was assisted by Dr. Norin Dollard, Dr. John Lyons, Dr. April Fernando, Joelle Aboytes, Esq. and Tisha Pierre.   You can read the report and recommendation by the Human Trafficking Clinical Workgroup below.

Developed in 2009 as part of the TCOM suite of tools that identifies children, youth and families’ strengths and needs, the CANS-CSE supports decision-making and allows for the monitoring of clinical and functional outcomes for sexually exploited children and youth.  A study of the CANS-CSE — Sexually Exploited Minors: Needs and Strengths — was done in 2009 by WestCoast Children’s Clinic in Oakland, CA to better describe the mental health profile of this population of youth.  You can read about this study here.  The CANS-CSE is currently being used in several states including California, Tennessee, Florida and Georgia by providers that serve sexually exploited children and youth.


For more information on Florida’s Human Trafficking Assessment Tool Subgroup, contact David Braughton,


For more information on the work done at WestCoast Children’s Clinic, contact Erin Rosenblatt,


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