Merkley, Colleagues Introduce Legislation to Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect in Indian Country

WASHINGTON (KTVZ) – Senator Jeff Merkley, along with a bipartisan group of seven senators, presented the Alaska Native American Indian and Native Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, a law amending the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act to help provide tribal nations with resources to address child abuse and neglect.

As the primary federal law dealing with child abuse and neglect, CAPTA has played a critical role in protecting children in the United States. However, he did not go far enough to meet the needs of Native American and Alaskan children. Although CAPTA contains specific language regarding tribal eligibility for discretionary grants and emphasizes issues of Native American and Alaskan Native child abuse, tribal nations rarely receive federal CAPTA grants, and projects of Research that specifically focuses on the unique problems of tribal communities is largely unfunded.

“We can all agree that we want to live in a world where every child, no matter what they look like or where they live, is safe and cared for,” said Merkley, who chairs the subcommittee that leads the funding. federal. for tribal programs. “Leaving indigenous communities out of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act is wrong and it is high time that this injustice be corrected. If we are to live by our values ​​of freedom, justice, health and prosperity for all, we must stand up for these children, supporting the efforts of their communities to ensure their safety.

This week’s legislation would help fill that gap, by amending CAPTA to require tribal nations to be included in the equitable distribution criteria for the allocation of federal CAPTA funding.

It also increases the dedicated tribal funding reserve from 1% to 5% as the overall CAPTA funding increases, strengthening the community funding available for child abuse and neglect prevention efforts and helping to address current limitations. in the development of innovative prevention of child abuse and neglect. model programs in tribal communities.

The legislation would also require a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on efforts to prevent child abuse and neglect in tribal communities, which GAO would conduct in consultation with tribal nations.

In addition to Merkley, the legislation was introduced by Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Mark Kelly (D- AZ), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Tina Smith (D-MN). The accompanying legislation was presented to the House by Representative Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ-03).

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