The Native American Children’s Safety Act would amend the Indian Child Protection and Family Violence Prevention Act to specify the procedures for criminal background checks of adults involved in foster care by tribal social service agencies. Any adult individual working for the social service or residing in a potential foster home would be subject to checks based on fingerprints and child abuse registries. These background checks may be waived by the tribal social service agency in the event of an emergency foster care placement. The bill has passed both chambers as S. 184 and H.R. 1168, and after an additional procedural vote it will go to the President.
The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Jun 4, 2016.
(This measure has not been amended since it was introduced. The expanded summary of the Senate reported version is repeated here.)
Native American Children's Safety Act
Amends the Indian Child Protection and Family Violence Prevention Act to prohibit the final approval of any foster care placement or a foster care license from being issued until the tribal social services agency: (1) completes a criminal records check of each covered individual who resides in the household or is employed at the institution in which the foster care placement will be made, and (2) concludes that each of those individuals meets the tribe's standards established pursuant to this Act. Defines a "covered individual" as an adult and any other individual the tribe determines is subject to a criminal records check.
Requires the Tribe's standards to include requirements that each tribal social services agency: (1) perform criminal records checks, including fingerprint-based checks of national crime information databases; (2) check any abuse registries maintained by the Indian tribe; (3) check any child abuse and neglect registry maintained by the state, and any tribal abuse registries maintained in the state, in which the individual resides; (4) request any other state in which the individual resided during the preceding five years to enable the agency to check its registry; and (5) any other additional requirements that the Indian tribe determines is necessary and permissible within its existing authority, such as the creation of voluntary agreements with state entities in order to facilitate the sharing of information related to the performance of criminal records checks. Prohibits a foster care placement from being ordered if the investigation reveals that a covered individual has been found guilty by a federal, state, or tribal court of a felony involving child abuse or neglect, spousal abuse, a crime against a child, violence, or drugs.
Exempts emergency foster care placements from such requirements.
Requires Indian tribes to establish procedures to recertify homes or institutions in which foster care placements are made.
Directs the Department of the Interior to issue guidance regarding: (1) procedures for a criminal records check of any covered individual who resides in the home or is employed at the institution in which the child is placed after the investigations that preceded that placement occurred, (2) self-reporting requirements for foster care homes or institutions that have knowledge that a covered individual residing on their premises would fail a criminal records check, (3) promising practices used by Indian tribes to address emergency foster care placements, and (4) procedures for certifying compliance with the Indian Child Protection and Family Violence Prevention Act.