Journal Highlights HHS Human Trafficking Training Efforts

December 6, 2021

HHSC’s efforts to help health care professionals combat human trafficking were recently highlighted in an article in the Journal of Human Trafficking.

House Bill 2059, from the 86th Legislature in 2019, required HHSC to review training courses on human trafficking and list approved trainings on its website. Certain health care practitioners must complete an approved course to renew their registration, permit or license.

After the bill became law, the HHSC Human Trafficking Resource Center developed training standards based on a widely respected training assessment tool. These standards require approved courses to be comprehensive, trauma-informed, rights-based and culturally responsive, among other criteria. The center also implemented a three-level review process to make sure a course meets the standards, as well as state and federal law and agency policies, before it can receive final approval by the HHS executive commissioner.

The journal article, “Mandated Continuing Education Requirements for Health Care Professional State Licensure: The Texas Model,” says state-mandated human trafficking education across the U.S. is largely inconsistent, likely due to the challenges of training so many professionals in a limited time, the lack of universal standards, and varied mandates for professionals.

The authors recognize Texas for requiring direct care practitioners to complete an approved course and for having “the most objective and complete standards and process for approval.” They say the Texas model encourages this education to be evidence-based and thoughtfully designed, to help prevent misinformation, to empower recognition of at-risk patients, and to assist providers in offering appropriate care and services.

“The implementation of this legislation has been an exciting and challenging process for the HHSC Human Trafficking Resource Center,” said Brandi Soules, a program specialist for the center. “The training standards and thorough review process ensure high-quality courses, so practitioners have the tools they need for assisting patients and clients who have been trafficked. We are proud of the recognition this article imparts.”

HHSC estimates that nearly 1 million Texas practitioners will complete an approved training during each licensure renewal period.

HHSC created its Human Trafficking Resource Center in 2018 to connect agency staff, health care practitioners, community members, other stakeholders and trafficked persons to local, state and national resources. In 2020, the center published the Provider Guidebook: Services for Victims of Human Trafficking in Texas (PDF).

The center also developed the Hearing, Evaluating, Activating, Resourcing & Training (HEART) online human trafficking training that meets all the approval requirements. HHSC will soon release the course to the public at no cost.

For more information or questions, email the Human Trafficking inbox.