HHS announces new funding to preserve Native languages and strengthen early childhood development and tribal courts

(August 18, 2015) Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell today announced up to $5.8 million to help tribal communities boost early learning and development services, enhance native language revitalization efforts, and assess and improve the handling of child welfare cases including abuse, neglect, guardianship and adoption. HHS will award $4.2 million for Native American language revitalization, $600,000 for the Tribal Early Learning Initiative (TELI), and $1 million for the Tribal Court Improvement Program (TCIP).

Secretary Burwell is on a trip to Montana where she is visiting the Flathead Reservation, home of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, and the Blackfeet Reservation.

“At HHS, we’re committed to ensuring healthy, productive lives for families in all communities” said HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell. “Today’s announcements reinforce our commitment to ensure that tribal communities have access to high quality services to help children thrive early in life, strengthen the tribal justice system to provide for the well-being of children, and preserve Native languages and culture.”

Secretary Burwell announced the following funding awards:

  • Native American language revitalization: HHS, through the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), is funding 17 new grants totaling $4.2 million to help Native American language revitalization efforts. Use of Native languages has been declining for decades. This funding will help preserve and strengthen tribal communities’ cultures and identities by supporting the use of Native American languages.

    One special category of Native language revitalization grants, the Esther Martinez Immersion grants, will be awarded to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation of Montana to launch a language immersion nest, serving children through age 3.  The Bitterroot Salish dialect, spoken on the Flathead Reservation, is critically endangered with less than 1 percent of the tribal members using it for daily communication and only 30 fluent speakers, all over age 50.

    Other Tribes and Native American organizations that will receive new funding for Native Language projects include:  Stone Child College (Montanta), Chickaloon Native Village (Arkansas), Passamaquoddy Tribe (Maine), Sitting Bull College (North Dakota), Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde (Oregon), Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians (Michigan), Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians of Michigan (Michigan) Kaw Nation (Oklahoma), Igiugig Village (Arkansas), Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association Inc. (Arkansas), the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria (California), Rural America Initiatives (South Dakota), Red Cloud Indian School Inc. (South Dakota), Lakota Language Consortium (Indiana), the ‘Aha Kane Foundation for the Advancement of Native Hawaiian (Hawaii), and Para I Probechu’n I Taotao-ta Inc. (Guam).

  • Tribal Early Learning Initiative: ACF is funding $600,000 in awards to six tribal entities, which compose the second group of the Tribal Early Learning Initiative (TELI). To ensure that more children enter school healthy and ready to learn, the TELI initiative supports American Indian tribes in coordinating their early learning and development programs and in boosting the quality of services offered to children and families during the time from pregnancy-to-kindergarten.  The initiative is also part of the White House Rural Council, led by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, to reduce child poverty in rural communities, including tribal communities.

    The TELI grants will be awarded to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes in Montana, Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians in Oregon, the Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan, and the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa in Wisconsin.

    ACF is releasing a new report that highlights the innovative work of the first group of TELI grantees:  the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, the Pueblo of San Felipe, and the White Earth Band of Chippewa Nation. Over the past three years, these grantees have made major strides in improving their early childhood services and ensuring more children and their families are receiving the high-quality early learning experiences they need to thrive.

  • Tribal Court Improvement Program: ACF is awarding nine TCIP grants totaling $1 million to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, Muckleshoot Indian Tribe of Washington, Ponca Indian Tribe of Nebraska, Citizen Potawatomi Nation, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, Taos Pueblo, the Sitka Tribe of Alaska, the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe and Smith River Rancheria.  Of the new awardees, only Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes are repeat recipients.  Seven Tribes were awarded grants in the first round of funding including: the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians of Michigan, the Navajo Nation Judicial Branch and Pascua Yaqui Tribes of Arizona, Minnesota’s White Earth Band of Chippewa, the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California, and the Nooksack Indian Tribe of Washington.

    The TCIP supports assessments of how tribal courts handle child welfare proceedings and  helps make improvements to court processes to provide for the safety, permanency, and well-being of children as set forth in the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA).  The program also seeks to increase and improve engagement of the entire family in court processes relating to child welfare, family preservation, family reunification, and adoption.  TCIP funding helps ensure that children’s safety, permanency, and well-being needs are met in a timely and complete manner, and provides training for judges, attorneys, and legal personnel in child welfare cases.

To learn more about Native language preservation and revitalization, visit:http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ana/programs/native-language-preservation-maintenance

To read a blog about the ANA Language Grants visit: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/blog/2015/08/our-language-is-our-soul

For more information on TELI, visit: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ecd/tribal-early-learning-initiative

For more information on TELI activities, results and grantee perspectives, visit:http://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/ecd/teli_collaborative_success.pdf

To read a blog on the TELI grants visit: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/blog/2015/08/supporting-young-children-and-families-in-american-indian-communities

To learn more about the Tribal Court Improvement Program, visit:http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/resource/court-improvement-program

 

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