Governor Abbott Announces $610,000 Workforce Education Grant For Foster Youth, Victims Of Sex Trafficking

October 6, 2023 | Austin, Texas | Press Release

Governor Greg Abbott today announced a Texas Talent Connection grant award totaling $610,000 to support a two-year renewal of a pilot program connecting foster youth and victims of sex trafficking, ages 16-25, to workforce education programs and services to help them find and maintain employment leading to independence and self-sufficiency.

“Every Texan deserves the opportunity to chart their own course toward a brighter future," said Governor Abbott. “Foster youth and young adults who have been victims of sex trafficking are especially vulnerable and often need extra support to overcome obstacles on their path to self-sufficiency. The First Lady and I are proud of the work of our local workforce development boards, Foster Youth Transition Centers, and employers in helping these young Texans on their journey to career success and a lifetime of opportunities.”

The Texas Talent Connection grant of $610,000 funds a two-year renewal of the Texas Employment Empowerment Model for Disenfranchised Youth and Young Adults pilot program and is awarded to three Local Workforce Development Boards and Foster Youth Transition Centers:

  • 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

The Office of the Governor's Texas Workforce Investment Council and the Child Sex Trafficking Team have 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, first launched in November 2021, 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 are trained on working with vulnerable individuals.

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 here.

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.