Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyoming). Photo from Senate Indian Affairs Committee
The chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee hailed action on two bills that will help protect American Indian and Alaska Native children. The Senate passed S.184, the Native American Children's Safety Act, and S.246, the Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children Act, by a unanimous vote on Monday. Both measures saw quick action this year after Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyoming) took control of the committee at the start of the 114th Congress in January. “On International Children’s Day, the Senate has taken important, bipartisan, and commonsense action to help children in Indian Country,” Barrasso said in a press release. “Indian children are particularly vulnerable when foster care placements are not thoroughly and properly investigated. By requiring extensive background checks, the Native American Children's Safety Act will help ensure that children are only placed in safe, stable homes. “The creation of the Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children is intended to make government programs more effective and help us better address the needs of Native children," Barrasso added. The Native American Children's Safety Act which also cleared the House yesterday, 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. The Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children creates an 11-member commission at the Department of Justice. The panel will study federal, state, local and tribal programs that affect Native youth and will make recommendations on ways to improve them.
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