Commission on Native Children Holds Their First Meeting
The Commission on Native Children -- first introduced by Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) in 2013 to address challenges facing Native children -- held its first meeting on Monday. Comprised of 11 individuals specializing in juvenile justice, social service programs, Indian education, and mental and physical health, the Commission will conduct a comprehensive study on the programs, grants, and supports available for Native children, both at government agencies and on the ground in Native communities, with the goal of developing a sustainable system that delivers wrap-around services to Native children. They will then have three years to issue a report to address a series of challenges currently facing Native children. Dr. Tami DeCoteau -- a psychologist, member of the Mandan, Hidatsa, & Arikara Nation, and member of the Commission -- stated that Commission could provide much-needed opportunities for young people across Indian Country. “The constant threat of a traumatic experience is a national reality for too many kids on too many reservations. And for years, the federal government has neglected to fully understand and treat the immense amount of trauma inflicted on generations of Native families,” said DeCoteau. “This Commission is a chance to turn an important page in that long and tense history and to raise awareness about the issues impacting children’s physical and mental health that have been overlooked for too long.” More here.