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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