AP NEWS

Tribal officials blame state for stalled child welfare talks

May 24, 2019

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — Alaska Native officials have criticized the state for backing out of negotiations over the Alaska Tribal Child Welfare Compact, a report said.

The Alaska Federation of Natives and state tribal officials blamed Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy and his administration in a May 17 statement for the breakdown of negotiations over funding, The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported Thursday.

The compact signed by former independent Gov. Bill Walker in 2017 said Alaska Natives make up about 20% of the state’s children but more than half are in foster care. The agreement enables tribes to manage services for those children.

The state entered negotiations expecting all tribal funding for fiscal year 2020 would go toward “direct services and deliverables” and that tribes would come up with their own insurance to cover risks related to work done by the state in the process, said Matt Shuckerow, a spokesman for Dunleavy.

“Unfortunately, both of these matters were not resolved and negotiations ended for this round,” Shuckerow wrote in an email to the newspaper.

The state “imposed unreasonable requirements and refused to transfer funding agreed upon in January, according to a written statement by the Association of Village Council Presidents, a statewide nonprofit group serving 56 tribes.

“For two years, tribes have spent hundreds of hours with the State developing a path forward to solve the statewide child welfare crisis,” Tribal Co-Lead Negotiator Francine Eddy Jones said in a written statement. “The tribes were at the table in good faith, and fear that Alaska’s children will be worse off than when we started.”

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Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com

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