June 15, 2021

Warren Statement on Committee Advancing Bill to Curb Child Abuse and Neglect in Indian Country

Bill includes provisions included in Senator Warren's American Indian and Alaska Native Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act.

Washington, DC - United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) released the following statement regarding the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee's advancement of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) Reauthorization Act of 2021, which includes provisions from Senator Warren's bipartisan, bicameral American Indian and Alaska Native Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (AI/AN CAPTA)

"Child abuse and neglect don't have a place in our country, and its prevalence in Indian Country is unacceptable. I am glad to see that the legislation reported out of committee includes the provisions I proposed with Senator Murkowski to increase funding to address this problem, get better answers on how to best meet the needs of Native children, and help prevent child abuse across tribal communities," said Senator Warren.

In March 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a CAPTA reauthorization including these tribal provisions. Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Senator Warren first introduced AI/AN CAPTA in 2019, when Senator Warren was a member of the HELP Committee.

As the primary federal law addressing child abuse and neglect, CAPTA has been crucial in protecting children in the United States. However, it has not gone far enough to address the needs of American Indian and Alaska Native children. Though CAPTA contains specific language regarding tribal eligibility for discretionary grants and an emphasis on American Indian and Alaska Native child maltreatment issues, tribal nations rarely receive federal CAPTA grants.

AI/AN CAPTA would increase the dedicated tribal set-aside for funding to five percent (up from one percent) after overall CAPTA funding increases -- bolstering community funding available for child abuse and neglect prevention efforts and helping to address current limitations in the development of innovative child abuse and neglect prevention program models in tribal communities. AI/AN CAPTA also requires a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on child abuse and neglect prevention efforts in tribal communities that GAO would conduct in consultation with tribal nations.

Senator Warren, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska.), and Representative Grijalva have been advocating for the inclusion of tribal nations and tribal organizations in the planning and fulfillment of public health-related prevention programs, including suicide. In February 2019, the lawmakers reintroduced a bipartisan bill, the Native American Suicide Prevention Act, to address the suicide crisis in Native communities, which they also introduced in September 2018. A version of that bill was enacted in December 2020 as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (Public Law No. 116-260). Senator Warren and Representative Grijalva also co-authored an op-ed for Indianz.com on the importance of empowering tribal communities in addressing the suicide crisis.