GRACE - Governor’s Response Against Child Exploitation
The Office of the Governor and the Department of Family & Protective Services are working together to fight child sex trafficking in Texas. To improve awareness, service capacity, and prevention efforts, the GRACE initiative empowers communities of faith across Texas, complementing the agencies’ shared vision of a statewide Network of Nurture to meet the needs of children and their families.
We envision every faith community in Texas working collaboratively with the State of Texas and local agencies to end human trafficking, help survivors heal and flourish, and protect the vulnerable.
The GRACE collaboration will empower leaders of the diverse faith communities in the state of Texas to achieve our shared vision through education, advocacy, prayer, and provision of resources to survivors of human trafficking and those who are vulnerable.
Week of Prayer to End Human Trafficking
January 8-14, 2024
Every January, GRACE hosts a Week of Prayer to End Human Trafficking. Faith communities across Texas are encouraged to unite in prayer, become better educated about human trafficking, and discern opportunities to prevent exploitation and support survivors.
The 2024 Week of Prayer to End Human Trafficking will run from Monday, January 8 through Sunday, January 14. Join us for a virtual interfaith launch event on Monday, January 8th at 7pm on Facebook. The event will include remarks from First Lady Cecilia Abbott, DFPS Commissioner Stephanie Muth, Child Sex Trafficking Team Administrator Janet Kasper, DFPS Human Trafficking Director Blanca Denise Lance, survivor-leader and advocate Karla Solomon, and a prayer intention led by Dr. Mia K Wright, Co-Pastor of Fountain of Praise Church in Houston. Texans can use the hashtag #TXPraysToEndHT on social media to share their support for the Week of Prayer to End Human Trafficking.
Daily Prayer Intentions
During this week of prayer, Texans of all faiths and religious backgrounds are encouraged to pray about the issue of human trafficking in whatever manner they choose. In a spirit of solidarity and interfaith collaboration, GRACE members humbly offer these daily intentions for those Texans wishing to focus their prayers. Beginning Tuesday, January 10, a new video featuring different faith leaders will be posted on the Office of the Governor’s Facebook page to guide viewers through the day’s intention.
- Monday, January 8: Pray that the demand for human trafficking will decrease and that all who may be vulnerable to trafficking receive the help, love, and support they need to prevent them from experiencing victimization.
- Tuesday, January 9: Pray that our hearts and minds will be open to recognizing the signs of human trafficking in our communities, and that Texans will have the awareness and courage to speak up when they see behavior that puts others at risk.
- Wednesday, January 10: Pray for trauma-informed, victim-centered, innovative investigations that successfully recover those being trafficked.
- Thursday, January 11: Pray for complete healing for all who are currently being exploited, or who have been exploited in the past.
- Friday, January 12: Pray that child welfare workers, law enforcement officers, prosecutors, judges, and all others involved in the justice system will have the strength to endure, and that justice prevails.
- Saturday, January 13: Pray that children, women, and men who are currently being exploited will find safety quickly, and that they are able to remain safe as they start to heal.
- Sunday, January 14: Pray for discernment on the actions you can personally take to prevent human trafficking.
GRACE has identified online safety as a major issue for faith communities and families seeking to protect children from exploitation. Along with First Lady Cecilia Abbott, the McCain Institute, and the Outdoor Advertising Association of Texas, GRACE members recently helped launch the R.E.A.L. Friends Don’t campaign. The goal of this campaign is to empower parents and caregivers to protect their children from harmful content, grooming, or online exploitation.
What can you do?
- Visit REAL Friends Don’t for resources to begin the conversation
- Share the PSA on social media along with #REALFriendsDont
- Report suspected online exploitation to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
Faith communities can increase awareness in their congregations and larger communities by educating on how to identify, respond to, and prevent trafficking.
The following videos and resources are suitable for mature audiences:
- Be the One: 52-minute training documentary from the Attorney General of Texas. The video features actual cases prosecuted in Texas and equips viewers with a better understanding of human trafficking in our state.
- Look Beneath the Surface to End Human Trafficking: 14-minute video from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. The video features stories of survivors and raises awareness about human trafficking and how to get help.
- TBRI Animate on Human Trafficking: 3-minute animation from Texas Christian University that accurately, succinctly, and artfully describes the realities of child exploitation and how we can help survivors heal.
- Can You See Me?: A series of PSAs ranging from 2 minutes to 5 minutes that depict various scenarios of human trafficking to help viewers recognize and report suspicious activity.
- R.E.A.L. Friends Don’t: This campaign increases awareness and educates parents and caregivers about online safety and empowers parents to protect their children from harmful content, grooming, or online exploitation.
- National Human Trafficking Hotline
- National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
Other targeted toolkits and resources for leaders of multiple faiths and their communities:
- Department of Homeland Security Blue Campaign Faith-Based & Community Toolkit
- Engage Together Church Teaching Series and Toolkit (also available through Right Now Media)
- Fighting Modern-Day Slavery: A Handbook for Jewish Communities
- Freedom Church Alliance GoBox
- Look Beneath the Surface: Materials for Faith-Based and Community Organizations
- Shared Hope Faith in Action Kit
- UNICEF Interfaith Toolkit
- U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops SHEPHERD Toolkit
The Department of Family and Protective Services has partnered with Shared Hope International to help Texas congregations learn how to protect their youth and give them tools to protect their community. Learn more by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
GRACE encourages faith communities to move from awareness to action to meet the unique needs of their local area. Each community has an opportunity to discern its contribution through prayer, awareness, supporting victim services, or moving upstream into prevention activities.
If you would like information on supporting children in foster care, contact your local DFPS faith-based specialist.
The Governor's Child Sex Trafficking Team (CSTT) has regional advisors across the state who can help educate faith communities and connect them with relevant stakeholders.
In addition, local anti-trafficking coalitions welcome partnerships with faith communities to strengthen local efforts.