Senators Warren & Murkowski Re-Introduce Bipartisan American Indian and Alaska Native Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act

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In full transparency, the following is a media release from Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s office. She was elected by voters in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to serve the state in Washington DC in the US Senate. She is a Democrat.

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WASHINGTON DC- United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) reintroduced the American Indian and Alaska Native Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (AI/AN CAPTA). First introduced in 2019 with Representative Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), the bipartisan bill would amend the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) to help provide tribal nations with resources to combat child abuse and neglect.

Senate cosponsors include Senators Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), and Tina Smith (D-Minn.).

As the primary federal law addressing child abuse and neglect, CAPTA has been crucial in protecting children in the United States. However, it has not gone far enough to address the needs of American Indian and Alaska Native children. Though CAPTA contains specific language regarding tribal eligibility for discretionary grants and an emphasis on American Indian and Alaska Native child maltreatment issues, tribal nations rarely receive federal CAPTA grants, and research projects that focus specifically on unique tribal community issues are largely unfunded.

AI/AN CAPTA helps fill this gap by amending CAPTA to require that tribal nations be included in the equitable distribution criteria for allocating CAPTA federal funding. It also increases the dedicated tribal set-aside for funding to five percent (up from one percent) after overall CAPTA funding increases — bolstering community funding available for child abuse and neglect prevention efforts and helping to address current limitations in the development of innovative child abuse and neglect prevention program models in tribal communities. AI/AN CAPTA also requires a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on child abuse and neglect prevention efforts in tribal communities that GAO would conduct in consultation with tribal nations.

“Child abuse and neglect don’t have a place in our nation, and its prevalence in Indian Country is unacceptable,” Senator Warren said. “Our bipartisan bill would ensure that CAPTA protects Native children by dedicating additional funding to help prevent child abuse across tribal communities and get better answers on how to best meet the needs of Native children.”

Representative Raúl Grijalva also recently reintroduced AI/AN CAPTA in the House of Representatives.

In March, the House passed a bill that includes provisions from AI/AN CAPTA, including requiring a GAO report on child abuse and neglect prevention efforts in tribal communities, and increased funds set aside for tribes, tribal organizations, and migrant programs.

“When we talk about keeping children safe, we must ensure that our actions truly mean all children,” said Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva. “Decades of underfunding have created circumstances on our tribal nations that make these programs even more necessary, and it’s critical that tribes receive a fair portion of these funds. These provisions and funds for culturally-relevant solutions will help tribes safeguard the well-being of their children while respecting tribal sovereignty.”

“The National Indian Child Welfare Association applauds the introduction of the American Indian and Alaska Native Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act,” the organization said, adding that that Senators Warren and Murkowski have introduced a bill “that promotes much needed equity for tribal communities in access to federal child abuse and neglect prevention resources. This legislation will increase tribal access to child abuse prevention grants under the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act which historically has been limited to two tribal nations each grant cycle. Increasing tribal access and funding will allow many more tribes to establish culturally based child abuse and neglect prevention programs that can help reduce child maltreatment in tribal communities, help reduce out-of-home placements of children, and contribute to the development of models that can be replicated in other tribal communities. We appreciate provisions that instruct the Government Accountability Office to conduct a study, with tribal participation, on promising practices in child abuse and neglect prevention in Indian Country. Little information exists about tribal practices and their benefits in this area, and this study, the first of its kind, will provide valuable data for tribal communities and policymakers to inform additional support for tribal child abuse prevention programming.”

“The National Congress of American Indians applauds the leadership of Senator Warren and Senator Murkowski for the introduction of this legislation. This bill will improve the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) by providing additional resources and information for American Indian and Alaska Native children and families. It is well past time to update CAPTA to improve the support for children in Indian Country and AI/AN CAPTA will help us achieve that goal.” -Fawn Sharp, President, National Congress of American Indians

“CWLA strongly supports the AI/AN CAPTA, which would direct more resources to the prevention of child abuse among American Indian and Alaska Native children and families, and would also obtain crucial information about many dimensions of this problem.  Not enough is known either about the nature and extent of child abuse among this population nor about the culturally specific prevention services or approaches that hold promise to reduce child abuse and neglect for these children and ensure they are safe and can reach their full potential.” -Christine James-Brown, President & CEO, Child Welfare League of America

“Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (CBCAP) grants are foundational to our country’s efforts to prevent child abuse and neglect and to significantly reduce the need for child welfare system involvement. Ensuring tribes can provide the high-quality family strengthening services that CBCAP supports – a goal of the AI/AN CAPTA – both helps to ensure that all children and families in America have the opportunity to thrive and is critical to advancing a more equitable child welfare system.” -National Child Abuse Coalition

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