Governor Greg Abbott today announced $1 million in Texas Talent Connection grants supporting a two-year pilot program connecting foster youth and victims of sex trafficking, age 16-25, to workforce education programs and services to help them in finding and maintaining employment leading to independence and self-sufficiency.
“Every Texan deserves the opportunity to live lives worthy of their potential,” said Governor Abbott. “Foster youth and young adults who have been victims of sex trafficking are especially vulnerable and often need support to overcome obstacles in their path. The First Lady and I thank the Local Workforce Development Boards and Texas employers for joining with us to help these young Texans on the path to self-sufficiency, career success, and a lifetime of opportunities.”
The Texas Workforce Investment Council and the Child Sex Trafficking Team, both within the Office of the Governor, identified a need to provide workforce services to foster youth and young adult victims of sex trafficking to support their education and workforce progression and help deter repeat victimization.
The Texas Employment Empowerment Model for Disenfranchised Youth and Young Adults pilot responds to this need. The model brings together Local Workforce Development Boards with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services’ Foster Youth Transition Centers and Commercially Sexually Exploited Youth Advocates to develop a tailored process, led by a Training and Employment Navigator, to help foster youth and young adult victims of sex trafficking find a path to independence and self-sufficiency. Navigators, workforce center staff, and employers will be trained on working with vulnerable individuals as a foundation for the pilot.
Four Local Workforce Development Boards and Foster Youth Transition Centers are participating in the two-year pilot program:
- Workforce Solutions Greater Dallas and CitySquare of Dallas Foster Youth Transition Center
- Workforce Solutions Gulf Coast and Harris County Protective Services for Children and Adults/HAYS Center Foster Youth Transition Center
- Workforce Solutions Alamo and BCFS Health and Human Services Transition Center/San Antonio Foster Youth Transition Center
- Workforce Solutions North Central Texas and CitySquare of Fort Worth Foster Youth Transition Center
A Training and Employment Navigator will guide each individual through the workforce center services, such as career readiness and coaching, referrals, training and support services, and employment connections. The Navigator will serve as the single point of contact for the participant, providing specialized intake and assessment to identify programs and services of benefit. The Navigator will also coordinate with Texas employers who commit to hiring and supporting program participants. Feedback from program participants and the Training and Employment Navigators will help further develop this Texas Employment Empowerment Model for Disenfranchised Youth and Young Adults.
About the Texas Workforce Investment Council: The Texas Workforce Investment Council assists the Governor and the Legislature with strategic planning for and evaluation of the Texas workforce system to promote the development of a well-educated, highly skilled workforce for Texas. The Council members represent workforce system partners and stakeholders, including business and industry, organized labor, education, and community-based organizations, as well as the Texas Workforce Commission, Texas Education Agency, Texas Health and Human Services Commission, and Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. The Texas Talent Connection grants awarded by Governor Abbott are Wagner-Peyser 7(b) grant funds allocated to the Governor’s Office by the U.S. Department of Labor to encourage innovation in workforce training and job placement services. Read more on the Texas Talent Connection grant program at https://gov.texas.gov/organization/twic/wagner_peyser_7b_program.
About the Child Sex Trafficking Team: The Child Sex Trafficking Team in the Governor’s Public Safety Office supports Texas communities in protecting children and youth from sexual exploitation by: helping the public recognize sexual exploitation in all its forms; recovering victims with protective and empowering collaborative responses; supporting healing of survivors through a variety of trauma-informed and responsive services and supports; and bringing justice for survivors by holding exploiters accountable.