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Strengthening the Circle: Child Support for Native American Children

Published: December 1, 1998

This publication is a technical assistance reference and resource document. It is for Native American parents, American Indian Tribes and Alaska Native governments; Tribal and inter-Tribal organizations; and Federal, State, and local child support enforcement and other caring professionals. Its purpose is to summarize new information needed across Indian Country to assess and formulate how to carry out the technical amendments to the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, referred to as PRWORA. There are 340 American Indian Tribes, over 238 Alaska Native Village governments and organizations, and 245 Tribal courts potentially eligible to apply for direct funds to provide child support enforcement services in Indian Country. Native American consortia and Inter-Tribal organizations may also be eligible. The Tribes and organizations are also potentially eligible to enter into inter-governmental cooperative agreements with States.

Although each Tribe has its distinct legal structures and unique customs, belief in the special value and importance of children is virtually universal. The diversity of jurisdictional agreements, Tribal organizations, and local customs underscores the need for a basic understanding among those who will build new child support enforcement partnerships to protect Native American children. This reference document is not intended to serve as a guide to design and operate a Tribal child support enforcement program, nor for entering into specific intergovernmental agreements. Rather, its goal is to provide a context within which all parties dedicated to serve Indian children can discuss and deliberate the new child support enforcement authorities in the technical amendments to the Welfare Reform Act (PRWORA) and how to carry them out. This will strengthen the Circle of protection around Native American children.

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