Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-North Dakota) with Native high school students from North Dakota. Photo from Facebook
In a rare act of unity, the House and the Senate today passed a measure aimed at improving the safety of Native American children.
The Native American Children's Safety Act requires background checks of all adults in a home where foster children are placed. It was written to ensure tribal courts and the Bureau of Indian Affairs have all the information necessary to ensure the safety of the most vulnerable American Indians and Alaska Natives.
"Passage of this legislation in the US House and US Senate fulfills our commitment to ensuring Native American children are placed into safe foster care homes. This bill creates a national foster care standard for tribes by unifying existing national requirements for non-tribal foster care placements and ensuring tribal children receive the same protections provided non-tribal children," Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-North Dakota), who introduced H.R.1168 in the House, said in a press release.
YouTube: Congressman Cramer Discusses H.R. 1168, the Native American Children's Safety Act
“Native American children living on reservations should have all of the same protections when placed in foster care that children living off the reservation have,”
added Sen. John Hoeven (R-North
Dakota) , who introduced S.184, the Senate version. “The Native American Children’s Safety Act requires background checks for all adults living in a foster home, helping to ensure that children placed there are secure at an already difficult time in their lives."
North Dakota's entire Congressional delegation -- including Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-North Dakota) -- pushed for the bill after a series of tragedies involving children on the Spirit Lake Nation. The tribe supports the measure and Cramer led a hearing last June to look more closely into the issues facing the child welfare system there and throughout Indian Country.
Indianz.Com SoundCloud: House Debate on Indian Bills