Credit: Senator Jon Ossoff Facebook livestream
'An urgent issue': Hundreds of Georgia foster kids may have been sex trafficked, report says
LISTEN: According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, about a quarter of the 1,790 children who went missing from Georgia’s foster care system between 2018 and 2022 were identified as likely child sex trafficking victims. GPB’s Sarah Kallis reports.
A new report shows that hundreds of children have likely been sex trafficked while in Georgia’s foster care system.
According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, 1,790 children went missing from Georgia’s foster care system between 2018 and 2022, with 410, or about a quarter, identified as 'likely' child sex trafficking victims.
The Center's Dr. Samantha Sahl told a U.S. Senate Human Rights Subcommittee meeting in Atlanta Monday that when the failures of foster care encourage kids to run away, that leaves them vulnerable to exploitation.
"Running away from these placements often becomes their effort to problem-solve to meet these needs. This creates a perfect storm that the traffickers are skilled at taking advantage of," she said, adding that the foster care system has "an urgent issue."
U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff is chairing the subcommittee that is investigating Georgia’s foster care system. He spoke about systemic breakdowns within DFCS (the state's Division of Family & Children Services) reported by OCA (Georgia Office of the Child Advocate).
"This is an investigation about children," Ossoff said of the subcommittee's work that thus far contains interviews with a hundred witnesses and sources, and over 1000 pages of testimony. "The investigation is active and ongoing. I believe it can and must spur a long overdue reform that these children deserve."
The committee also heard testimony from children who were in foster care.
19-year-old Tiffani McLean-Camp entered foster care in Georgia when she was 15 after being removed from her adoptive parents' home. She said she was isolated, verbally abused and overmedicated while in a group home. She also said she did not receive proper medical care after she gave birth and was separated from her son.
"It made me feel like an animal," she said.
The subcommittee will issue recommendations for Georgia's foster care system after it concludes its investigation.