In 2019, a bipartisan bill led by Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) and Rep. Paul Cook (R-CA) seeked to protect Native children from expired laws that, 30 years later, are providing little-to-no benefit.
On March 9, 2021 Gallego reintroduced the Native American Child Protection Act alongside California Rep. Don Young.
If passed, it would improve the prevention, investigation, treatment, and prosecution of child abuse and neglect in Native lands by ensuring tribes have the resources they need to take care of Native children in culturally competent ways. It does so by approving and reauthorizing three programs originally passed as part of the Indian Child Protection and Family Violence Prevention Act.
Those programs are as follows:
The Indian Child Abuse Treatment Grant Program, the National Indian Child Resource Services Center, and the Indian Child Protection and Family Violence Prevention Program.
Passed in 1990, the original bill was drafted in response to widespread reports that Native children were being physically sexually abused in Bureau of Indian Affairs-run boarding schools in the 1980s. The purpose of the original bill was to identify the scope of unreported child abuse in Indian Country, fill gaps in child welfare services and improve coordination in child welfare and domestic violence programs, and to provide funds for mental-health treatment in Indian Country.
“Unfortunately, only five million of the 43 million annual authorization was appropriated under the act, leaving broad sections of the act unimplemented until it’s authorization expired in 1997,”Gallego said at the original hearing in 2019.