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Invisible Children, Invisible Families

A Blueprint for Supporting the Child Care Needs of American Indian and Alaska Native Families

The first few months and years of life are a sensitive period for child development​,​ and a potentially vulnerable time for families. Reaching American Indian and Alaska Native families with young children with culturally responsive early care and education can have substantial benefits for AI/AN families and communities.

During the first of BPC’s four-part webinar series focusing on tribal sovereignty, tribal-state relations, and child care, Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND), former chair of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, said, “Every American should understand that children deserve our assistance, our investment, but in many circumstances​,​ Native American children fall far behind.” Sen​.​ Dorgan’s statement echoes what we heard from tribal leaders, federal and state government officials, and leaders of ​​nongovernmental organizations in subsequent webinars and focus groups. Research also highlights disparities between AI/AN young children and the overall U.S. ​population when it comes to health, child welfare, and educational outcomes.

Each of the Blueprint​’s ​primary recommendations—strengthen communication and collaboration between state governments and tribes, open new approaches for tribes to serve members living off-reservation in urban areas, and reform federal funding to address tribal and AI/AN needs using data-driven methods—will lead to stronger supports for AI/AN families with young children and their communities.

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