On August 18, 2011, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) issued its tribal consultation policy (policy). The (attached) policy applies to all ACF offices, many of which directly impact tribes: Children’s Bureau; Family and Youth Services Bureau; Administration for Native Americans; Child Care; Child Support Enforcement; Family Assistance (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families); and Head Start. ACF notes that its new policy does not conflict with nor diminish or waive the Department of Health and Human Services’ (DHHS) tribal consultation policy.
The policy details how ACF, one of its offices, or a tribe may initiate a consultation request; the types of activities and the parties involved in consultation; timelines for acknowledgment of consultation requests and reporting on the outcomes of consultation; frequency of agency-wide consultation; methods of consultation; tribal appeal on issues which have not been resolved during consultation in tribes’ favor; and the relationship with workgroups and Native organizations.
A minimum of one agency-wide consultation session will take place annually at which ACF budget, programs and policies will be discussed. The Administration for Native Americans, working through ACF’s Native American Affairs Advisory Council, will coordinate the agency-wide consultation session.
If a tribe(s), following completion of the consultation process, is not satisfied with an ACF decision, it may file an appeal to the Secretary of DHHS for a decision. With regard to waivers, the policy provides that ACF “consistent with HHS Tribal Consultation Policy and as practicable and permitted by law” is to consider waivers and other alternatives that would be to tribes’ advantage in achieving ACF program objectives.
ACF will provide opportunity for input from Indian organizations, state-recognized tribes, tribal colleges, Alaska Regional Corporations and others. Tribal/federal workgroups will be convened, subject to availability of funding, and will be required to operate within the Federal Advisory Committee Act guidelines.
The policy includes a set of definitions. Consultation is:
An enhanced form of communication, which emphasizes trust, respect, and shared responsibility. It is an open and free exchange of information and opinion among parties, which leads to mutual understanding and comprehension. Consultation is integral to a deliberative process, which results in effective collaboration and informed decision-making with the ultimate goal of reaching consensus on issues.
Please let us know if we may provide additional information regarding the Administration for Children and Families tribal consultation policy.