A majority of juveniles arrested on prostitution charges in Los Angeles County come from the county's foster care system, and, in some cases, pimps use underage sex workers to recruit fellow group home residents, county officials said.
Until now, foster youth caught in the sex trade have largely been the responsibility of the county Probation Department.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to launch a multiagency task force to address the ongoing issue of sex trafficking involving youth in the foster care system. The move was spurred in part by this month's passage of an anti-sex-trafficking ballot measure, which county officials said will shift much of the responsibility for juvenile prostitutes from the criminal justice system to the foster care system.
Of the 174 juveniles arrested on prostitution-related charges in Los Angeles County in 2010, 59% were in the foster care system, according to Probation Department statistics. The department has launched initiatives to address the issue of sex trafficking, including running prevention workshops in juvenile halls.