Tribal Early Childhood Development

Ensuring high quality, culturally appropriate, prenatal-to-kindergarten entry early childhood services to American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) children is a critical policy and programmatic priority for tribal communities throughout the United States. Health care and education is considered a fundamental treaty right by many tribes, and the fact that AI/AN populations experience disparities in health and well-being relative to other population groups, highlights a significant need for targeted services. Interventions in the first few years of a child’s life have significant impacts on their lifelong health, economic and social well-being. Programs like Head Start, child care, and home visiting are key resources for children and families in diverse tribal communities. However, tribes often struggle to work across these traditionally siloed programs to build stronger early childhood systems to support their youngest and most vulnerable citizens in a seamless and coordinated way. 

In collaboration with tribal communities and partners across the federal government, ECD is engaged in efforts to support and strengthen the implementation and coordination of early childhood programs and systems in tribal communities.

  • Tribal Early Childhood Working Group
    • This group of tribal leaders, tribal early childhood program administrators, and federal staff met three times in summer 2020 to discuss coordination issues impacting tribal early childhood programs. The meetings were held through a collaboration between ECD, the Administration for Native Americans, and the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. The Working Group resulted in a Summary Report and Blueprint for Action (PDF). (PDF)

  • Transforming Tribal Early Childhood Webinar
    • In partnership with the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) hosted a webinar on July 29, 2021 to kick off an exploration of new opportunities for transforming tribal early childhood programs and systems. The American Rescue Plan (ARP) and other COVID-19 related legislation included large investments and present an unprecedented opportunity for tribal communities to develop and implement a vision to improve tribal early childhood programs and systems to better meet their needs.
    • Recording

  • Tribal Early Childhood Meeting Series
    • The “Transforming Tribal Early Childhood” webinar kicked off a series of meetings to provide a space for discussion about a variety of issues related to coordination and alignment of early childhood programs in AI/AN communities. Topics include:
      • Ensuring Equity in Tribal Early Childhood Services (Understanding the Need and Building the Supply)
      • Building and Improving Facilities for Early Care and Education
      • Integrating Language and Culture into Early Childhood Programming
      • Professional Development Opportunities and Challenges
      • Family Engagement and Family Leadership
      • Supporting Coordinated Data Systems
      • Blending and Braiding Funding and Leveraging Policy Flexibilities
      • Addressing Mental Health Issues among Children, Staff, and Families

  • Federal Interagency Workgroup on Tribal Early Childhood