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Ruben Gallego

11/01/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 11/01/2019 10:56

Chairman Gallego and Ranking Member Cook Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Protect Native American Children

WASHINGTON, DC - Chairman Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) of the Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples joined with Ranking Member Paul Cook (R-CA) to introduce the Native American Child Protection Act.

The bipartisan legislation improves and reauthorizes several programs within the Indian Child Protection and Family Violence Prevention Act in order to improve the prevention, investigation, treatment, and prosecution of family violence, child abuse, and child neglect involving Native American children and families. Originally established in 1990, the grant programs are the only tribal-specific prevention and treatment programs for Native children who are at risk of being abused or have been abused.

Indian Child Abuse Treatment Grant Program: The bill improves and reauthorizes the Indian Child Abuse Treatment Grant Program to provide funding to tribal governments to establish treatment programs and culturally-appropriate services for the victims of child abuse and neglect.

National Indian Child Resource Services Center: The bill establishes a new National Indian Resource Services Center to provide tribes with technical assistance, advice, and training on addressing child abuse, family violence, and child neglect. It will also support efforts to improve intergovernmental coordination between federal and tribal personnel responding to those issues.

Indian Child Protection and Family Violence Prevention Program: The bill improves and reauthorizes the establishment of tribal programs that investigate, prosecute, and prevent incidents of child abuse, child neglect, and family violence in Indian Country.

'The federal government has a solemn trust responsibility to ensure the protection of the most vulnerable members of Indigenous communities: children,' said Chairman Gallego. 'Despite this, there are extremely limited resources for Tribes to develop culturally-specific child abuse and neglect treatment, investigation, and prevention programs. That is why I am proud to introduce the Native American Child Protection Act to ensure that Indigenous communities have the resources they need to keep Native American children safe and healthy.'

'Indian Country has lacked adequate resources to identify and address violence towards children for far too long,' said Ranking Member Cook. 'This bipartisan legislation will provide funds to ensure that Tribes have the resources they need to protect children from neglect and abuse. I look forward to working with Chairman Gallego to get this bill through the legislative process and signed into law.'

'The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) firmly believes that American Indian and Alaska Native children are the future of Indian Country,' said NCAI CEOKevin Allis. 'Tribal governments are responsible for protecting, teaching, and guiding their youth, providing services to families, and creating supportive environments where children can flourish. We applaud the introduction of the Native American Child Protection Act and believe it will help tribal nations ensure that American Indian and Alaska Native children and families have access to culturally-appropriate programs services in their own communities.'

The National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) said, 'American Indian and Alaska Native children and their families who experience child abuse or neglect or family violence often have few opportunities to find accessible, culturally-appropriate services to help them address trauma. Furthermore, prevention funding is almost non-existent for this population, removing opportunities to prevent trauma before it happens with at-risk children and families. We commend Congressman Gallego for introducing the Native American Child Protection Act to reauthorize three important grant programs that have been in place since 1991 to provide funding for critical services in American Indian and Alaska Native communities. Our children and families deserve the same opportunities to grow up healthy and strong as other populations, and this legislation will help close the gap in access to funding and services for this vulnerable population.'

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