HELP Committee Advances Legislation to Curb Child Abuse and Neglect

Includes Murkowski Led Tribal Provisions

During a Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Executive Session, U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) voted in favor of S. 1927, Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) Reauthorization Act of 2021. The committee reported the bill favorably out of committee to the full Senate. This legislation provides key funding to States in support of prevention, assessment, prosecution, and treatment activities and also provides grants to public agencies and nonprofit organizations. The bill includes provisions of Senator Murkowski’s legislation, the American Indian and Alaska Native Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (AI/AN CAPTA), which increases funding specifically to help tribes address child abuse and neglect.

Click here for video of Senator Murkowski.

During the hearing, Senator Murkowski highlighted the importance of the CAPTA legislation and also spoke to the disproportionately high levels of abuse faced by Alaska Native and American Indian children.

“When I think about those things that we as lawmakers should be working every day to address, it is in the area of child abuse, domestic violence—these areas where it is such a dark and really awful reflection of what continues to happen in our society,” said Senator Murkowski. “Nationwide American Indian and Alaska Native kids are overrepresented in foster care at a rate 2.7 times greater than the proportion in a general population. So, this means that although American Indian and Alaska Native children are just 0.9 percent of all children in the United States, they are 2.1 percent of all children who are placed outside their homes in foster care. In my state between 40 to 60 percent of all the children in our foster care children are Alaska Native, but our Alaska Native population only makes up about 20 percent of the entire population. So proportionally, it is just an extraordinary problem.”

Senator Murkowski also commended her colleagues for including provisions from her AI/AN CAPTA bill in the CAPTA Reauthorization Act, reiterating the importance of the increased tribal set-aside.

“I want to recognize the HELP committee leadership for including so many of the provisions that I had proposed, along with Senator Warren, in our American Indian and Alaska Native CAPTA bill to support Alaska Native and American Indian communities. These provisions include an increase to the dedicated tribal set-aside for funding to 5 percent up from one percent after overall CAPTA funding increases. This is really going to help the communities in dealing with abuse and neglect as we are trying to move forward with innovative models in our tribal communities,” said Senator Murkowski. “To be able to provide them with the resources that they need to stop this cycle of trauma and abuse is what we must do. So thank you for your leadership with this. We’ve got a lot of work to do for all the right reasons.”

The CAPTA Reauthorization Act of 2021 received strong support from tribal organizations in Alaska and across the nation.

“The Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) recognizes and strongly supports the urgent movement of the Child Abuse and Prevention Treatment Act (CAPTA) in the US Senate. AFN thanks our Congressional delegation for their attention to this critical area of need. It gives us much hope,” said Julie Kitka, Alaska Federation of Natives President.

“The National Indian Child Welfare Association supports the tribal provisions in the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) reauthorization bill that would increase funding to tribal nations for community-based child abuse and neglect prevention and instruct the General Accountability Office to work in partnership with tribal nations to identify promising practices that tribes are currently using in this area. The passage of this legislation will address the inequity in prevention funding for tribal nations that has existed since the enactment of the law. We thank Senators Warren and Murkowski for their efforts to develop the tribal provisions and work to ensure their inclusion in the larger reauthorization bill,” said Sarah Kastelic, Executive Director of the National Indian Child Welfare Association