Murkowski Amendment Strengthens Alaska Native Childhood Development

Senator’s Bipartisan Amendment Making Simple but Profound Change Passes Overwhelmingly, 93-6

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senators Lisa Murkowski and Al Franken (D-MN) today successfully introduced and passed an important amendment to S.1086 the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act to help address the employment crisis in Native communities, provide additional high-quality childcare to Native children, and enable tribes and tribal organizations to continue to prepare their members for the workforce.

The Child Care Development Block Grant provides funds to States and Tribes to help low income families with quality child care while parents receive job training or enter the workforce. Current law now reserves “not less than 1% and not more than 2%” of total CCDBG funding for tribal children.  The Department of Health and Human Services provides the maximum 2 percent, but the demand for child care in Indian Country is growing in order to allow parents to work or go to school.  The Murkowski-Franken Amendment changes the wording to “no less than 2 percent” – opening up an avenue for tribes to work with the Department of Health and Human Services to seek added resources if overall funding for CCDBG is increased over current levels and if the Secretary maintains current level funding of the block grants to states.

(Senator Murkowski discusses her amendment to S.1086 – Click to watch.)

“Our nation’s indigenous peoples suffer from some of the worst statistics of education, health, employment and abuse – much of which could be improved upon by providing better early childhood education and child care,” said Senator Murkowski.  “Increased access to high quality child care and education will help children get a strong start on their future while helping their parents get and keep a good job or earn a degree or engage in job training.  I am pleased and proud to have sponsored this positive change to the legislation and that my Senate colleagues agreed with me that this simple change that could make a profound change in the lives of our first people nationwide.  Making this small change could mean the difference in the professional path of a vulnerable young girl, the educational path of an at-risk young man, and can make difference in whether a hard-working parent can keep his or her job.”

 The amendment having been considered and passed 93-6, the United States Senate will continue to debate S.1086 with a final vote on the entire measure tomorrow.