Office of the Governor's Child Sex Trafficking Team October Newsletter

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Office of the Texas Governor, Child Sex Trafficking Team

Dear Partners:

Collaboration. The very first time Governor Abbott addressed our developing Care Coordination teams in 2016, the importance of collaboration was the crux of his message. This issue of the CSTT newsletter is all about the gains we make in the fight against human trafficking and child exploitation through collaborations – between private and public funding sources to achieve economic empowerment for overcomers, between overcomers and law enforcement agencies to hold exploiters like CityXGuide accountable, between state and local investigative and prosecutorial agencies to win the first child labor trafficking jury trial in Texas, between faith communities and anti-trafficking organizations to help prevent and address human trafficking, and so much more!

One of the most impactful collaborations of late has been the collaboration between the State of Texas and the State of Louisiana in our collective fight against human trafficking.  Check out this blog for more information on the specific accomplishments made together.  In celebration of this collaboration, instead of our regular monthly webinar, we are inviting our newsletter subscribers to join our quarterly First Spouses' Global Human Trafficking Summit on October 14 from 2:30 - 4:00 PM, hosted by The Texas Governor's Office and focused on the growing problem of online exploitation of children and youth and on solutions we can use to prevent and stop it.

Keep collaborating!


Monthly Webinar Series

First Spouses' Global Human Trafficking Summit

Instead of our normal monthly webinar, you are all invited to join the First Spouses' Global Human Trafficking Summit presented by the Child Sex Trafficking Team and the State of Texas on October 14th from 2:30 - 4:00 PM

Featured speakers include:

  • First Lady Donna Edwards of Louisiana
  • Andrea Galliano Sparks, Director, Governor Abbott's Child Sex Trafficking Team
  • Special Agent Jack Station, Homeland Security Investigations
  • Belinda Swan, National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
  • Kristen Abrams, McCain Institute - REAL Friends Don't
  • Sonya Ryan, Carly Ryan Foundation - Not on Our Watch, Texas
  • And a special message from Cindy McCain

Register for this Webinar


Attention advocates and overcomers! U.S. Attorney Seeking Survivors of Exploitation on CityXGuide for Restitution

Survivors who have been exploited via CityXGuide may be eligible for restitution for physical or mental health injuries and will also be able to share their thoughts on the upcoming sentencing of CityXGuide owner Wilhan Martono. For more information and to sign up, visit this link.

Funding Opportunity

The Jensen Project

The Jensen Project exists to fuel strategic partnerships in the fight against sexual violence through funding and other support. 

The project's GrantTank focuses on organizations following best practices in building their programs, collaboration in their community and the anti-trafficking space as a whole and specifically seeks applications for funding in the following areas: 

  • Emergency, long-term, and transitional housing. 
  • Economic empowerment programs, including barrier removal, career readiness/vocational training, higher education/technical scholarships, social enterprises, and sustainable careers. 

Applications will be accepted October 1-31, 2021. Download the application checklist and submit your application online.

Training Opportunities

Intensive T Visa Declaration Workshop for Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault/Human Trafficking Cases

Join the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking in this four-session course workshop that will be a unique peer learning opportunity where you will have an initial T visa declaration reviewed by other attorneys and enhancing your knowledge of how to craft a stronger declaration based on United States Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) history of review.

Training Dates: October 5, 12, 19, and 26, 2021 

Register for this Training



The Church and Human Trafficking

Join the Freedom Church Alliance in a free Zoom three-week class series discussing the issue of human trafficking through the lens of Christ. You will hear from a survivor, talk about the vulnerabilities that lead to victimization, discuss the demand for trafficking, renewal of the heart, and help you understand what you can do now that you’re equipped with a better understanding. This training also includes an option to host small in-home gatherings to deepen understanding and community. CSTT's own Andrea Sparks will be a featured speaker. 

Training Dates: October 11, 18 & 25, 2021 

Register for this Training



Ending Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Youth: Progress, Hope, and Lessons Learned

Join TDCJ and Andrea Sparks as you are introduced to the dynamics and current trends of sexual exploitation, and anti-trafficking efforts in Texas. Participants will also learn about the strategies and future plans of the Child Sex Trafficking Team (CSTT) in the Office of the Governor, and lessons learned so far.

October 14, 2021

Register for this Webinar



Self-Employed Survivors Workshop

Join Shobana Powell Consulting for a free, virtual national workshop providing information for survivors of gender-based violence, trafficking, and/or exploitation on the basics of starting your own business or nonprofit and managing your public benefits. The focus of this workshop is on economic empowerment, financial literacy, and professional development for survivors, with special attention to systemic barriers for marginalized communities, including people of color, LGBTQ+ folks, immigrants, women, and persons with disabilities.

October 25, 2021

Register for this Webinar



Prosecutors Strategies for Child Sex Trafficking and Exploitation Cases

Learn from the best - Texas' own Cara Pierce and Brooke Grona-Robb from the Texas Attorney General's Office. Gain the tools and skills necessary to successfully prosecute cases involving child sex trafficking and exploitation. Examine topics including charging strategies, courtroom tactics, corroborating victims, developing witness testimony, plea bargains, and motion hearings. Learn how to effectively develop a trial strategy and discuss various pre-trial and trial issues including identifying and working with witnesses and experts, preserving testimony, and responding to unexpected issues during trial.

October 27, 2021

Register for this Training



Child Sex Trafficking Forensic Interview Online Training

Join the National Criminal Justice Training Center to develop the skills and techniques to conduct developmentally appropriate forensic interviews with victims of child sex trafficking. Learn the differences between interviewing children in child abuse cases and interviewing child sex trafficking victims. Review victim-centered interview methodology with special emphasis given to understanding the factors contributing to child sex trafficking victimization and the impact on development and effects of trauma. Learn to gather information regarding the use of technology in the child sex trafficking business model and the multitude of crimes that traffickers commit, including the use of sexually explicit images of minors (child pornography).

November 2 - 4, 2021

Register for this Training


November 16 - 18, 2021

Register for this Training



R.E.A.L. Friends Don’t: Awareness Opportunities and Youth Ambassador Nominations

The Child Sex Trafficking Team has partnered with the McCain Institute to amplify the R.E.A.L. Friends Don’t campaign. Thanks to the Outdoor Advertising Association of Texas, you'll see billboards featuring this message in cities across the state. This online safety campaign seeks to increase awareness and educate parents, caregivers, and young people about online safety. We invite you to join us in promoting this campaign to empower families. Consider sharing this 45-second PSA or the REAL Friends Don't website on social media along with #REALFriendsDont. The campaign is also a great way for human trafficking coalitions and nonprofits to raise awareness and then promote their local prevention efforts. 

The McCain Institute is now accepting nominations for Youth Ambassadors to represent the R.E.A.L. Friends Don’t campaign by using their voice and experiences to help protect themselves and their peers from exploitation. This is a volunteer role that will take approximately five to seven hours per month. Ambassadors are expected to be actively engaged in campaign activities for the 2021-2022 academic year. It is expected that ten driven high school students will be accepted to help advise this national campaign, and we would love to see youth from Texas participating! Youth may fill out this application form for a chance to be considered, or you may nominate a youth be completing this nomination form on their behalf.

Success Stories

CSTT starr


CSTT’s Central Texas Regional Administrator is a “Not a Number” trainer of facilitators! In just a few weeks, she will be available to train professionals working with high risk youth to facilitate this research-based prevention education curriculum to youth ages 12 to 18. If your agency serves high-risk youth and would like to provide this curriculum to them, contact us at for more information.



The Children’s Advocacy Center of Hidalgo and Starr Counties has implemented a proactive policy that requires a CSE-IT screening for every child eligible for a forensic interview. This empowers the CAC to identify children who have clear concern or possible concern for exploitation and to take the steps necessary to provide them the services they need to address trauma and other needs. By screening youth already coming to the CAC because of potential sexual or physical abuse, the CAC is taking action to identify and provide services to likely victims without waiting for an outcry of exploitation, which research and practice show is very unlikely to occur. Since September 2020, the CAC has identified 57 possible concerns and 35 clear concerns. Because of their efforts, 92 children have been identified as needed services and are getting the help they need.



CSTT CSEY Advocacy Grantee, Harvest House, won a $25,000 grant to renovate their future child trafficking survivor home through the State Farm Neighborhood Assist Grant contest. Harvest House was one of 40 winners from among 2,000 original applicants and won largely because of the level of community support and votes they received from stakeholders who believe in the organization. Harvest House is located in Beaumont, Texas and their home will help stabilize survivors and remove barriers to health care, counseling, and provision of their immediate basic needs


Support Healing

Congratulations to Dr. Vanessa Bouché, Co-Founder and CEO of Savhera, for winning the North Texas Women-Owned Small Business Pitch Competition! Savhera is a public benefit corporation on a mission to provide premium wellness products to consumers and dignified livelihood to trafficking survivors. The Beacon-State Fund will award Bouche $7,500 for her small business.


Bring Justice

A jury in Hunt County recently delivered a guilty verdict in the case of a Greenville woman charged with Continuous Trafficking of a Child. Barbara Barrett and her husband were accused of abusing their five adopted children and forcing them to work in a puppy mill being run behind their home. Barrett was sentenced to 99 years, the maximum penalty for this offense. We applaud the collaboration and dedication that went into this successful child labor trafficking case. The criminal activity was investigated by the Texas Department of Public Safety, and the Attorney General’s Human Trafficking and Transnational Organized Crime Division assisted the Hunt County District Attorney in prosecuting the case.