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Reps. Gallego and Young Re-Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Protect Native American Children

March 9, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) and Rep. Don Young (R-AK) reintroduced the Native American Child Protection Act (NACPA). This bipartisan legislation authorizes three programs aimed at ensuring that Tribes have the tools they need to treat, prevent, investigate, and prosecute instances of family violence, child abuse, and child neglect involving Native American children and families.

The original version of these programs passed as part of then-Senator John McCain’s Indian Child Protection and Family Violence Prevention Act, but the programs were never fully funded and have not been reauthorized by Congress:

  1. NACPA 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. 
  2. NACPA authorizes grants through the 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.
  3. NACPA authorizes formula grants to Tribes under the Indian Child Protection and Family Violence Prevention Program to support the hiring of caseworkers and the establishment and expansion 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 Rep. Gallego, former Chairman of the House Indigenous Peoples of the U.S. Subcommittee.  “The programs in this bill were first passed years ago as part of a promise to address the impact of abuse of Native children in federally-run boarding schools and prevent anything like it from ever happening again. That promise was broken when these programs were never funded and Tribes never received the support they needed. That is why it is so important for Congress to pass this bill and finally uphold its trust responsibility to help Tribes ensure that Native American children are safe and healthy. I am grateful to Rep. Don Young, the Dean of the House, for joining me in this important effort.”

"We must ensure that our Native communities have the support and resources necessary to help children learn, grow, and live healthy lives. In Alaska and across the country, too many Indigenous children have been victims of violence, abuse, and neglect. The Federal government has an urgent responsibility to these children, and we should be doing all that we can to help them secure a bright future. I am proud to join my friend, Congressman Ruben Gallego, in the introduction of the Native American Child Protection Act. This is a good bill, and it is urgently needed. Our legislation will help ensure that the Federal government is upholding its commitments to help tribes and tribal organizations protect the next generation. Guarding against crimes committed against our Native communities will always be one of my highest priorities, and this bill is a strong step in the right direction,” said Congressman Don Young.

“The National Congress of American Indians applauds the introduction of the Native American Child Protection Act, which will help close longstanding funding gaps and ensure that American Indian and Alaska Native children and families have access to culturally-appropriate programs and services in Indian Country,” said Fawn Sharp, President, National Congress of American Indians.

The National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) said, “American Indian and Alaska Native children and their families who experience child maltreatment or family violence often have few opportunities to find accessible, culturally-appropriate services to help them address the trauma from these events. Furthermore, prevention funding is almost non-existent for this population, removing opportunities to prevent trauma before it happens and avoid families and children slipping into crisis. We commend Congressman Gallego and Congressman Young 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.”

The Native American Child Protection Act passed the House of Representatives in the 116th Congress by voice vote.