President Trump issues proclamation for Missing and Murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives Awareness Day

President Trump issues proclamation for Missing and Murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives Awareness Day

BILLINGS-U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme and the Department of Justice today commemorated Missing and Murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives Awareness Day as proclaimed by President Donald J. Trump.

President Trump today signed a proclamation declaring May 5 as Missing and Murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives Awareness Day. The proclamation affirms the government’s commitment to ending violence against these Americans and to honoring those whose lives have been lost.

Attorney General William P. Barr said in a statement, “American Indian and Alaska Native people have suffered injustices for hundreds of years, including today’s rampant domestic and sexual violence carried out primarily against women and girls. Today, President Trump has proclaimed a day to remember all those missing and lost to this unacceptable violence.  Through the Presidential Task Force – co-chaired by Katie Sullivan, who heads our Office of Justice Programs – and in partnership with Tribal Nations, we are all committed to ending this cycle of violence.  To that end, we have brought unprecedented resources to support public safety and victim services, including $270 million in grant funding in fiscal year 2019.  The department is also hiring 11 coordinators to consult with tribes and develop common protocols to address this scourge of violence.  From this day forward, today’s proclamation marks a time for all of us to honor Native Americans who have been lost and rededicate ourselves to what President Trump has called ‘our mission to bring healing, justice, hope, and restoration’ to American Indian and Alaska Native communities.”

“We know that violence in tribal communities is too common. Native women and children suffer disproportionately high rates of domestic violence and sexual assault and too often go missing or are murdered. Montana has had several tragic cases,” said U.S. Attorney Alme, who is vice chairman of the Department of Justice’s Native American Issues Subcommittee. “Today, we remember all those who have been murdered or have disappeared. By all of us working together, I believe we can find solutions and stop this crisis.”

Using Federal Funds for Cell Phones and Personal Protective Equipment

On Friday, Children’s Bureau Associate Commissioner Jerry Milner sent a letter to child welfare leaders addressing the availability of federal funding and other resources to assist with the purchase of cell phones and plans to facilitate and maintain contact and the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE) as an allowable cost.

The letter focuses on the Title IV-B and Title IV-E programs, specifically including the Chafee program under Title IV-E that supports services to youth aging out of foster care. Several hundred tribes operate the Title IV-B programs, both subpart 1 and 2, and over a 100 tribes operate the Title IV-E program either through a direct plan with the federal government or through an agreement with a state.

It states, “The purchase and operation of cell phones for children and youth in foster care, their parents, or foster parents is an allowable cost under Title IV-B and/or the John H. Chafee Foster Care Program for Successful Transition to Adulthood (Chafee) as long as the costs are necessary to fulfill one or more program purposes in §422 (relating to the state plan for child welfare services under Title IV-B, subpart 1), §432 (relating to the state plan for child welfare service under title IV-B, subpart 2) and/or §477 (relating to Chafee program purposes) of the Act.”

“The purchase of a cell phone for a parent or foster parent can meet a Title IV-B program purpose if it is determined that it will facilitate needed communications for case management purposes between such an individual and the agency caseworker, or allow a parent to participate in a remotely-located court hearing or visitation with the child. Additionally, the recently enacted Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (Public Law (P.L.) 116-136) authorized additional funding under Title IV-B, subpart 1 ‘to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, domestically or internationally’” where agencies meet specific conditions to claim Federal financial participation for these costs.

The letter also describes circumstances under which the purchase of PPE “used by child welfare caseworkers to minimize exposure to COVID-19 is an allowable case management administrative cost under Title IV-E of the Act (45 CFR §1356.60(c)(2))” and “an allowable expenditure of Title IV-B funds for program purposes such as caseworker visits (§422(b)(17) of the Act and for states, §424(f) of the Act) by both state and Tribal Title IV-B agencies.” Conditions under which the purchase of PPE may be allowable for providers such as foster parents, kinship providers, and staff of child care institutions are also described.

Please review the entirety of the guidance provided here: Children’s Bureau Guidance for Cell Phones and Personal Protective Equipment

For additional Children’s Bureau resources and guidance, please see: Children’s Bureau COVID-19 Resources

FEMA Advisory: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic Whole-of-America Response

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic Whole-of-America Response

In support of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic response, FEMA provides the following:  FEMA Project Airbridge video Advisory; Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Preservation Best Practices Advisory and Fact Sheet, and a Resource Requests from the International Reagent Resource (IRR) Advisory and Fact Sheet.

FEMA Project Airbridge
To efficiently maintain the country’s existing medical supply chain infrastructure, FEMA augments the existing supply chain through a variety of strategies, to include FEMA Project Airbridge.

FEMA created Project Airbridge to reduce the amount of time it takes for U.S. medical supply distributors to get commercially sourced and procured Personal Protective Equipment and other critical supplies into the country for their respective customers. FEMA is doing this by covering the cost to fly supplies into the U.S. from overseas factories, cutting the amount of time it takes to ship supplies from weeks to days.

FEMA provides distributors with up-to-date information on the locations across the country hardest hit by COVID-19 or in most need of resources now and in the future. As part of the current agreement with distributors, 50 percent of the supplies on each plane are directed by the distributors to customers within hotspot areas with the most critical needs for those supplies. The HHS and FEMA determine hotspot areas based on CDC data.

A brief video on Project Airbridge is available on FEMA Website<https://www.fema.gov/coronavirus/media-gallery> and on all FEMA social media accounts.

Project Airbridge Advisory: Attachment [1]

Personal Protective Equipment Preservation Best Practices
This Personal Protective Equipment Preservation Best Practices Fact Sheet (attached) summarizes best practices for national implementation to sustain personal protective equipment (PPE) while ensuring the protection of workers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic response.

The objective of the COVID-19 National Strategy for Addressing PPE Shortage is to ensure protection against COVID-19 for healthcare workers, first responders, and patients by implementing three pillars of practice: reduce, reuse, and repurpose. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic response and associated PPE shortages, implementation of contingency and crisis capacity plans may be necessary to ensure continued availability of protective gear.

This fact sheet amplifies the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) strategies on conventional, contingency and crisis capacity strategies for optimizing PPE. All U.S. healthcare facilities should begin using PPE contingency strategies now and may need to consider crisis capacity strategies if experiencing PPE shortages.

Preserving Personal Protective Equipment Best Practices Advisory: Attachment [2]
Preserving Personal Protective Equipment Best Practices Fact Sheet: Attachment [3]

Resource Requests from the International Reagent Resource
The International Reagent Resource (IRR), established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), acquires, authenticates, and produces reagents that scientists need to carry out basic research and develop improved diagnostic tests, vaccines, and detection methods.

The (IRR) Fact Sheet (attached) outlines a simplified process for states and territories to make resource requests from the IRR. Consolidating testing supplies under the IRR alleviates burden on public health labs, which increases efficiency and reduces need to work with separate, individual suppliers for swabs, reagents, and other diagnostic testing supplies.

International Reagent Resource Advisory: Attachment [4]
International Reagent Resource Fact Sheet: Attachment [5]

Treasury Launches Web Portal and Begins Disbursement of CARES Act Funding to State, Local, and Tribal Governments

Through the Coronavirus Relief Fund, the CARES Act provides for payments to State, Local, and Tribal governments navigating the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The CARES Act established the $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund.

Treasury will make payments from the Fund to States and eligible units of local government; the District of Columbia and U.S. Territories (the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands); and Tribal governments (collectively “governments”).

The CARES Act requires that the payments from the Coronavirus Relief Fund only be used to cover expenses that—

(1) are necessary expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency with respect to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID–19);

(2) were not accounted for in the budget most recently approved as of March 27, 2020 (the date of enactment of the CARES Act) for the State or government; and

(3) were incurred during the period that begins on March 1, 2020, and ends on December 30, 2020.

Additional information on eligible uses of Fund disbursements by governments will be posted as it becomes available.

Amounts paid to States, the District of Columbia, U.S. Territories, and eligible units of local government are based on population as provided in the CARES Act.  The CARES Act directs Treasury to use U.S. Census Bureau data for the most recent year for which data is available.  The amount of payments made to each State will be reduced by the aggregate amount of payments that will be disbursed to eligible local governments within such State that have provided the required certifications to Treasury.  Additional information on these points can be accessed below.

A unit of local government eligible for receipt of direct payment includes a county, municipality, town, township, village, parish, borough, or other unit of general government below the State level with a population that exceeds 500,000.  Eligible local governments must submit the certification required by the CARES Act to Treasury by the deadline set forth below in order to receive payment.

Payments to Tribal Governments are to be determined by the Secretary of the Treasury in consultation with the Secretary of the Interior and Indian Tribes.  Although that consultation has not yet concluded, certain data is requested of Tribal governments at this time to assist in this determination.  Additional information on payments to Tribal governments will be posted as it becomes available.

Governments eligible for payments must provide payment information and required supporting documentation through the electronic form accessible below.  To ensure payments are made within the 30 day period specified by the CARES Act, governments must submit completed payment materials not later than 11:59 p.m. EDT on April 17, 2020.  Eligible local and Tribal governments that do not provide required information—and in the case of a local government, the required certification—by 11:59 p.m. EDT on April 17, 2020, may not receive any payment from the Fund.

Please Note: the online application form is compatible with the following Web browsers: Internet Explorer 10+, Chrome 80.0+,Safari 13.1+. Firefox 74.0+.

Construction Management students build cover for NAAC sweat lodge

MSU BILLINGS NEWS—The Native American Achievement Center (NAAC) at Montana State University Billings is home to the first and only on-campus sweat lodge in the state of Montana. This January, the NAAC partnered with Facilities Services and the City College Construction program for the completion of a wooden cover for the sweat lodge, preventing damage and protecting it from Montana’s weather.

With winter weather upon us, time was limited to construct a substantial snow cover on-site at the NAAC. Facilities Services Director Chris Eagan, alongside Construction Management Instructor David Nedrow and his students were up to the challenge, managing to plan, design, gain approvals, order materials, and build the structure in under a month. After completing the necessary prep work in the shop, the group was able to move on-site and complete the structure in two working days.

This is the second collaboration between Facilities Services and the Construction Program at City College. This November, students helped to complete a storage shed at the Chancellor’s residence in a mere eight days.

Projects like these are influential to student success in the Construction Management program. The project “provides the students real opportunities to receive training and gain experience in a number of hands-on skills, many of which are impossible in our shop setting,” says Nedrow. Students in the program have been able to gain hands-on experience working for real clients, participating in activities such as excavation, concrete work, building layout, and carpentry, which would otherwise be unavailable.

“The best advantage of these projects, however, is our ability to involve the students in the site assessment, budgeting and estimating, planning, material ordering and handling, and other tasks,” shares Nedrow. Students are able to hone their communication skills involved in project management, even if just on a small scale. They are exposed to a number of challenges that real contractors face, coming up with effective ways to overcome them.

“The variety and uniqueness provide the teaching moments we need,” says Nedrow. “We’ve enjoyed the projects so far and look forward to more to come.”

Students in the program are currently working on the partial interior renovation of a 40-year-old rental home located on Rimrock. This project will serve as yet another real-life learning experience for students.

“I believe projects like these and the real world experiences they provide will help our current students learn valuable skills and build marketable resumes,” said Nedrow, “while also providing the exposure our program needs to attract the next class.”

Funds for the sweat lodge were raised by the NAAC and MSU Billings Foundation.

Contact: City College Construction Management Program Instructor David Nedrow, 247-3053, david.nedrow@msubillings.edu<mailto:david.nedrow@msubillings.edu>; Facilities Services Director Christopher Eagan, 406-657-2197, christopher.eagan@msubillings.edu<mailto:christopher.eagan@msubillings.edu>.
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The Trump Administration Deploys the First Biometric Kiosk at a BIA Agency for Foster Parent Background Checks

ANADARKO, Okla. – Today, Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Tara Katuk Sweeney praised the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Anadarko Agency for deploying the first Tribal Access Program (TAP) biometric/biographic kiosk workstation. The TAP kiosk will help process finger and palm prints, take mugshots, and access data with the national crime information databases to better ensure the safety of children in foster care. The BIA Anadarko Agency is the first of 28 BIA Agencies to make a newly installed TAP kiosk operational.

Before a Tribe can place a child into foster care, the Native American Children’s Safety of 2016 (NACSA) requires a criminal records check, including a fingerprint-based check of national crime databases of all adults in a home, and a check of tribal and state abuse and neglect registries where the individual has lived in the past five years. The Act also applies to BIA Direct Services Agencies.

The on-site kiosk at Anadarko will enable the Agency’s BIA-Office of Indian Services (BIA-OIS) Social Service Programs and tribal social services program to vet foster parents more proficiently, as required under NACSA, and will provide the Agency’s BIA-Office of Justice Services (BIA-OJS) law enforcement personnel direct access to Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Criminal Justice Information Services.

“Participation in the TAP will allow BIA-OJS law enforcement officers the ability to directly access criminal databases to keep tribal communities safe and to protect Native children in the foster care system,” said Assistant Secretary Sweeney. “The Trump Administration is proud to bring this state-of-the-art technology and instrumental resource to our law enforcement and social service agencies.”

“We are proud to partner with BIA-Office of Indian Services to deliver access to the TAP kiosk for the purposes of processing quicker background checks on prospective foster parents,” said BIA-OJS Director Charles Addington. “Ensuring the safety of children and the safety of our tribal communities are our top priorities.”

“We appreciate Assistant Secretary Sweeney and BIA-OJS for making this vital background investigation resource available for our social services programs and tribal social service programs,” said BIA-Office of Indian Services Director Spike Bighorn. “Social workers know firsthand the great importance of quickly placing children in need of our intervention into safe homes and this technology will help us accomplish that for the Native children that we serve and protect.”

The TAP kiosk at the BIA Anadarko Agency will be available for following tribes to process background checks pursuant to the provisions of the NACSA:

  1. Apache Tribe of Oklahoma
  2. Caddo Nation
  3. Comanche Nation
  4. Delaware Nation
  5. Fort Sill Apache Tribe of Oklahoma
  6. Kiowa Indian Tribe of Oklahoma
  7. Wichita and Affiliated Tribes

The two remaining BIA social services locations, Northern Cheyenne Agency in Lame Deer, Montana and Northern Pueblos Agency in Ohkay Owingeh, New Mexico, will install TAP kiosks within the next year. In partnership with the Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Reservation, the BIA-OIS at the Fort Peck Agency will begin using the Tribe’s TAP kiosk in 2020.

BACKGROUND

On October 28, 2018, the DOI and DOJ jointly announced a dramatic expansion of DOJ’s TAP, which is offered in two versions, TAP-FULL (with a kiosk) and TAP-LIGHT (without a kiosk), at BIA Agencies. In addition to the three BIA Agencies identified to receive the TAP-FULL Kiosk, 28 BIA-OJS Agencies, including Detention Centers, will gain access to the TAP-LIGHT version by the end of FY 2020. At these agency sites, BIA law enforcement provides service and support to 64 tribes, and of these tribes, 53 tribes did not have any direct or local access to TAP at the time of the October announcement.

The TAP is the federal government’s key program that provides tribes with access to the national crime information databases, including the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), Next Generation Identification (NGI), National Data Exchange (N-DEx), National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), Law Enforcement Enterprise Portal (LEEP) as well as other national systems such as the International Justice and Public Safety Network (Nlets).

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