EL PASO, Texas - The Texas Criminal Justice Division recently awarded the El Paso Center for Children a $550,000 grant to help the victims of child trafficking be placed in more foster homes.
The center has been providing services for 100 years. It helps place children in foster care, while helping foster parents transition to make their home a safe place.
El Paso has been identified as one of the top three locations for sex trafficking and one of the top 20 human trafficking jurisdictions in the country by the U.S. Department of Justice.
"We're on the border, it's real easy for youth to be trafficked," said Veronica Lowenberg, director of the center's foster program.
The center will soon move to a larger location, but its current center holds about nine children- with another 30-40 children currently in foster care.
Lowenberg said there is a shortage of foster homes and volunteers.
The grant will assist potential foster parents with specialized traning. Lowenberg said this will help build a positive relationship with the victim so they can return to a health lifestyle.
Lowenberg said other ways the community can help is by looking for warnings signs when a child may be the victim of trafficking.
Warnings signs include:
- A child extremely tired for no reason
- The child suddenly starts dressing nicer (wear expensive watches, purses, name brand clothing, etc.)
- They have an older boyfriend, usually not in school
- Carries mulitiple cell phones, hotel keys
- Child secludes themselves
"The community can help by keeping an eye out for these youth and then reporting them," Lowenberg said.
To learn more about the center's foster program, call (915) 565-5021 or click here for more information.