Supporting the Development of Young Children in American Indian and Alaska Native Communities Who Are Affected by Alcohol and Substance Exposure

Tribal Policy Statement cover photoThe purpose of this U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) guidance document is to support early childhood programs and tribal communities by providing recommendations that promote the early development of American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) children, prenatal to age eight, who have been exposed to alcohol or substances during pregnancy, or who are affected by parent or caregiver substance misuse during early childhood.

In recent years, tribal leaders and members in many communities have raised the concern of an increase in the number of infants born affected by alcohol and substance use (U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, 2015). Tribal communities are not the only communities working to address this challenging issue – indeed, states and cities across the country are facing considerable increases in maternal opioid use and the resulting effects on infants (Ko, et al., 2016). However there has been little research or guidance particularly tailored to building on the unique strengths and meeting the unique needs of tribal communities. This landscape provides the impetus for the focus of this policy statement. It is HHS’s vision that all children, including AI/AN children, regardless of where they live, have access to responsive caregivers, nurturing relationships, and stimulating early learning environments that support their social, emotional, behavioral, cultural/spiritual, cognitive, and physical development.

See the Guidance Document here (PDF).

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