Thursday, November 22, 2007

New Report Supports Direct Funding for Tribes

A new report, "Time for Reform: A Matter of Justice for American Indian and Alaskan Native Children," found that American Indian and Alaskan Native children are overrepresented in the nation's foster care system at more than 1.6 times the expected level, according to a new report by the National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) and the national, nonpartisan Kids Are Waiting campaign, a project of The Pew Charitable Trusts. Yet tribal governments are excluded from some of the largest sources of federal child welfare funding.

Federal support for child welfare services in tribal communities is a patchwork of funding streams, most of which are discretionary and provides extremely limited levels of support. As a result, tribal governments have limited ability to provide services, and find themselves managing crises rather than responding to the core issues that put children at risk.

The Tribal Foster Care and Adoption Access Act of 2007, introduced in Congress by Senator Max Baucus, recognizes the special needs of American Indian and Alaskan Native children in foster care. This bipartisan legislation would allow tribes direct access to federal foster care and adoption funds and would create accountability measures to ensure that tribes meet the needs of the children in their care. According to Senator Baucus, "This bill provides tribes with the ability to serve their children directly with culturally appropriate care and understanding."

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