Time for Reform: A Matter of Justice for American Indian and Alaskan Native Children

Nov 19, 2007

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 this 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.

The report found that nationally, American Indian and Alaskan Native children were reported to the state and found to be victims of child abuse and neglect at the rate of 16.5 per 1,000 American Indian and Alaskan Native children. This rate compares to 19.5 for African American children, 16.1 for Pacific Islander children, 10.8 for White children, and 10.7 for Hispanic children. Native American children are more likely than children of other races/ethnicities to be identified as victims of neglect (65.5%), and they are least likely to be identified as victims of physical abuse (7.3%).

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.

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