Washington, DC— From data gaps to disproportionately low levels of funding, the U.S. has fallen short when it comes to understanding and addressing the child care needs of its tribal nations.
BPC’s latest report Invisible Children, Invisible Families: A Blueprint for Supporting the Child Care Needs of American Indian and Alaska Native Families is a culmination of two years of research, 40 interviews, and a national survey of AI/AN parents. It guides state government officials through the complexities of working with tribes as sovereign governments and is a call to action for policymakers at all levels to listen, learn, and work towards a future where every child, especially our youngest and first citizens, can thrive. The report recommends:
- strengthening communication and collaboration between state governments and tribes
- new approaches for tribes to serve members living off-reservation in urban areas
- reforming federal funding to address tribal and AI/AN needs using data driven methods
“For decades Native American children and families have been an afterthought for federal and state policymakers,” said Linda Smith, Director of the Early Childhood Initiative at BPC. “Researching and understanding the extent to which current funding levels support AIAN families was like peeling an onion, layer by layer we discovered additional elements to help better understand the child care needs of AI/AN families. Many states are actively working to address the needs of Native Americans, but to achieve what needs to be done, success will depend on improved trust and communication.”
“As a former tribal CCDF administrator, I have seen firsthand the challenges tribes face to ensure that all their tribal citizens have access to high-quality child care,” said Barb Fabre, CEO of Indigenous Visioning. “Current federal policies limit tribes from serving their urban families, which conflicts with our sovereign rights as tribal nations to govern.”