Torres Introduces Bill to Expand Access to Tribal Early Childhood Education
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Rep. Norma J. Torres (D-Pomona) introduced the Tribal Early Childhood, Education, and Related Services Integration Act, a bill that seeks to expand early education opportunities and close the achievement gap between Native and Non-Native children by making it easier for tribes to apply for support for early childhood education services.
“Native youth continue to lag behind their Non-Native peers in high school graduation, national math and reading assessments, and even the number of kindergarteners held back,” said Torres. “The research has shown that school readiness and educational attainment is linked to the quality of early childhood development opportunities, yet we currently have a system for tribes to fund these programs that is mired in red tape, redundancy, and confusion.”
The legislation introduced today amends the Native American Programs Act of 1972 to create a demonstration project that lets tribes coordinate the six different Department of Health and Human Services tribal early childhood education programs. It allows for technical assistance and training and statutory and regulatory waivers to promote flexibility and innovation and optimizes application and reporting requirements for improved accountability. The bill also provides for additional funding to improve tribal early childhood facilities and educator recruitment and retention and extends federal education loans forgiveness for tribal early childhood educators.
“Education is the foundation of economic success for both individuals and their communities,” continued Torres. “If we want tribes to thrive and have the ability to provide greater opportunities for their members, they need to have the educational resources necessary to build robust, lasting economic growth. My bill will help streamline the process to receive needed funding so that tribes can provide the resources their children need and put their youth on a path to future success.”
Rep. Torres represents California’s 35th congressional district and serves on the House Natural Resources Committee Subcommittee on Subcommittee on Indian, Insular, and Alaska Native Affairs. Companion legislation to the Tribal Early Childhood, Education, and Related Service Integration Act has been introduced in the Senate by Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) where it is currently before the Committee on Indian Affairs.