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The 191st General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Section 39K: Child welfare service needs of sexually exploited children

Section 39K. (a) Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, the department of children and families, in collaboration with the department of mental health and other appropriate state agencies, shall: (i) provide for the child welfare services needs of sexually exploited children including, but not limited to, services for sexually-exploited children residing in the commonwealth at the time they are taken into custody by law enforcement or are identified by the department as sexually-exploited children, for the duration of any legal or administrative proceeding in which they are either the complaining witness, defendant or the subject child; and (ii) provide appropriate services to a child reasonably believed to be a sexually exploited child in order to safeguard the child's welfare. If a child reasonably believed to be a sexually exploited child declines services or is unable or unwilling to participate in the services offered, the department or any person may file a care and protection petition under section 24. Sexually exploited children shall have access to an advocate. The advocate or a member of the multidisciplinary service team established under section 51D shall accompany the child to all court appearances and may serve as a liaison between the service providers and the court.

(b) The services that shall be provided under this section shall be available to all sexually exploited children, whether they are accessed voluntarily, through a court proceeding under this section or through a referral, which may be made by any person.

(c) In determining the need for and capacity of the services that may be provided under this section, the department of children and families shall recognize that sexually exploited youth have separate and distinct service needs according to gender and appropriate services shall be made available while ensuring that an appropriate continuum of services exists.

(d) The commissioner of the department may, subject to appropriation, contract with non-governmental organizations or entities with experience working with sexually exploited children to train law enforcement officials likely to encounter sexually exploited children in the course of their law enforcement duties. The training shall include, but not be limited to, awareness and compliance with the provisions of this section, identification of, access to, and the provision of services for sexually-exploited children and any other services the department deems necessary.

(e) The department may apply to the victim and witness assistance board for grants from the Victims of Human Trafficking Trust Fund, established in section 66A of chapter 10,, grants from the United States Department of Justice's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention or any other federal agency, or grants from any other private source to fund the law enforcement training and services for sexually-exploited children.

(f) The department shall adopt regulations to carry out this section.