Congress Passes Two Bills to Help Protect Native Children

Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, praised the Senate’s passage of S. 184, the Native American Children’s Safety Act and S. 246, the Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children Act.

Read the press release from the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.

Highlights of the Native American Child Safety Act:

The legislation:

  • Applies to tribal foster care placement of Native American children for the purpose of ensuring the safety and well-being of those children

  • Requires that all prospective foster care parents and adults living in the home undergo a background check prior to the placement of a Native American foster care child

  • Requires that background checks include checking for criminal activity as well as checking child abuse and neglect registries

  • Requires that adults who join the household after the foster care child has been placed there also undergo background checks

  • Requires that foster care homes undergo recertification periodically, to ensure they remain safe for foster care children

  • The bill sets out that the Department of Interior will work with Tribes, as well as Indian Country, to establish necessary procedures to ensure that these safety standards for foster care children are established

  • The bill requires the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which currently does not conduct these background checks in every case when placing Native American foster care children in foster care homes, follow these same requirements when acting on behalf of the Tribes

Read the press release from Sen. John Hoeven.

The United States Senate unanimously passed bipartisan legislation introduced by Senator Lisa Murkowski and Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) to create a Commission on Native American Children that would efficiently combine and coordinate the federal government’s resources and expertise to best address the complicated threats and challenges facing Alaska Natives, Native Americans and Native Hawaiians.

Read the press release from Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

Also see media coverage at the Alaska Public Media website and the Durango Herald website.