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March 2024Vol. 25, No. 2The Health and Well-Being of Amer­i­can Indi­an and Alas­ka Native Children: A History of Inequity and a Path Forward

The Annie E. Casey Foundation published a blog post that examines the health and well-being of American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) children and youth. AI/AN children, youth, and families have disproportionally poor experiences in health and well-being compared to the general population due to the legacy of historical trauma and discriminatory policies. This post separates equity challenges for this demographic into four categories: economic, education, health and mental health, and family and community. By examining relevant data, the post aims to foster a deeper understanding of the challenges these individuals encounter and identify potential areas for focused interventions and improvements.

Below are some highlights from the selection of findings on family and community inequities:

  • More than one-third of AI/AN children have had at least two adverse childhood experiences compared to 17 percent of the national average.
  • Forty-three percent of AI/AN youth transitioning out of foster care reported experiencing homelessness, which is higher than the national rate of 29 percent.
  • In 2021, AI/AN children were 2 percent of the foster care population. AI/AN children make up 1 percent of the general population.

The article also offers forward-looking recommendations for change. These recommendations serve as actionable steps to address the identified inequities and enhance the well-being of AI/AN children and youth. Grounded in practical solutions, the recommendations encourage those involved at all levels of child welfare to consider tangible measures to drive positive outcomes for this demographic that are rooted in culturally tailored and relevant strategies and respectful of the sovereignty of tribal nations. Recommended actions to strengthen the well-being of AI/AN children, youth, and families include the following:

  • Recognize and support culture as a protective factor in program and policy solutions.
  • Strengthen coordination across federal agencies and departments to streamline services and improve equitable access.
  • Continue to promote current efforts to address discrimination and prevent children from entering the child welfare system.

The post lists resources highlighting recommendations from AI/AN community members and providing additional context, such as the following:

Readers can explore these resources to discover studies and data that contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of the issues.

Read "Native American Children’s Health and Well-Being: Current Status, Enduring Inequities and a Path Forward" to find child welfare-specific data, recommendations for the future, and links to additional resources.