Luján, Collins Reintroduce Legislation to Protect Native American Children
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) reintroduced the Native American Child Protection Act (NACPA), bipartisan legislation that authorizes three programs that ensure Tribes have the tools needed to treat, prevent, investigate, and prosecute Native American child abuse and neglect.
These programs were originally authorized in 1990 as part of the Indian Child Protection and Family Violence Prevention Act to fill funding gaps in Tribal child welfare services, but the programs were never truly funded and have not been reauthorized by Congress. To ensure Tribes have adequate resources to effectively prevent and respond to child abuse and neglect in their communities, the NACPA:
- Establishes a single National Indian Child Resource and Family Services Center to provide Tribes with technical assistance and training on addressing child abuse, family violence, and child neglect. It will also improve intergovernmental coordination between federal and Tribal personnel responding to these issues;
- Reauthorizes the competitive Indian Child Abuse Treatment Grant Program to establish treatment programs and culturally appropriate services for the victims of child abuse and neglect in Indian Country; and
- Reauthorizes formula grants to Tribes under the Indian Child Protection and Family Violence Prevention Program for child abuse prevention and investigation.
To this day, these grants are still the only Tribal-specific child abuse prevention and treatment programs for Native children. Yet Congress has only appropriated $5 million since enactment in 1990. Reauthorizing and modernizing these critical programs will help Tribes develop and strengthen services to reduce trauma and uncertainty for Native American children.
“Congress has acknowledged there is ‘no resource that is more vital to the continued existence and integrity of Indian Tribes than their children,’” said Luján, a member of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. “Given the traumatic history of Native children being disproportionately removed from their families, Tribes need tailored child welfare support in their communities to heal and keep Native families together. The Native American Child Protection Act will finally address the shortfall in Tribal-specific services to prevent and treat child abuse and neglect by reauthorizing programs intended for this purpose. I’m proud to re-introduce this bipartisan legislation to ensure the federal government and Tribal Nations work together to better protect Native children.”
“The Native American Child Protection Act would modernize and reauthorize programs that aim to assist tribes in their efforts to help victims of child abuse and prevent future abuse,” said Collins. “This bill recognizes the significance of each tribe’s unique cultural values, customs, and traditions, while helping to ensure that children and families receive the support they deserve.”