Buchanan sponsors bill to create $75M human trafficking prevention grant program

To help combat human trafficking, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) on Jan. 30 sponsored a bipartisan bill that would authorize $75 million for a five-year grant program to train students, teachers, and other school personnel on the warning signs.

“Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery,” Rep. Buchanan said. “We need to prioritize educating students and teachers about the horrors of this monstrous crime.” 

The congressman introduced the Human Trafficking and Exploitation Prevention Training Act, H.R. 623, with original cosponsor U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) to amend the Public Health Service Act to provide for the implementation of curricula for training students, teachers, and school personnel to understand, recognize, prevent, and respond to signs of human trafficking and exploitation in children and youth, according to the congressional record bill summary.

Such training, said Rep. Buchanan, “is critical to helping current victims and preventing future instances of trafficking, which is especially important in hotspots like Florida.”

The grant program created under H.R. 623 would be based within the Office of Trafficking in Persons under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Grants would be issued to nonprofits that have shown expertise in creating and teaching human trafficking and exploitation prevention curricula, according to a bill summary provided by Rep. Buchanan’s office, and would prioritize funding for nonprofits serving geographic areas with the highest prevalence of human trafficking.

“Schools should be at the center of our strategy to protect young people from human trafficking,” said Rep. Wasserman Schultz. “Our education system is one of our greatest strengths, and we must take advantage by providing our schools with the resources to support children who might otherwise fall victim to trafficking.”

The Foundation United endorsed H.R. 623, which has been referred for consideration to the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee.