Luján Cosponsors Bipartisan Legislation to Address the Lack of Funding for Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention on Tribal Nations

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) joined Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) to reintroduce the American Indian and Alaska Native Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (AI/AN CAPTA). 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.), 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.

Representative Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) 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.

“Our children are our future, and the federal government must provide support for Tribes and Pueblos to tackle child abuse and neglect. For too long, Tribal Nations have been unfairly left out of critical federal funding that would better serve the needs of Native children,” said Luján, a member of the Committee on Indian Affairs. “This bipartisan legislation will help fund crucial child abuse and neglect prevention programs to make a real difference in the lives of Nativechildren and families.”   

“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,” said 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,” said 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,” said the National Child Abuse Coalition.



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