The White House has issued a directive to federal agencies regarding the formulation of the FY 2017 budget as it relates to its priorities for Native youth. The directive (attached) is in the form of a Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies (Memorandum) and is from Office of Management Budget Director Shaun Donovan and Domestic Policy Council Director Ceilia Munroz.
The Memorandum notes the importance of the visit by the President and First Lady to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and their meeting with Native youth there. An outgrowth of that visit was the Generation Indigenous or “Gen-I” initiative to develop a multi-agency, comprehensive and culturally appropriate approach to help Native youth reach their potential.
The Memorandum lays out specific priorities. It also instructs agencies to coordinate during the budget formulation process and to clearly identify in their budget submissions the portions that reflect the stated Native youth priorities. Agencies are told to communicate repeatedly with their respective Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Examiners to ensure this is happening and also to allow OMB to assess coordination efforts and to look for “inappropriate duplication”.
The multi-agency Native youth priorities are:
Improve Educational Outcomes and Life Outcomes for Native Youth. Priority is to be given for “programs that advance the educational outcomes for Native youth, including through in-school activities such as enrichment programs, expanded curriculum, and cultural education as well as out-of-school activities that address barriers to educational success”.
Increase Access to Quality Teacher Housing.
Improve Access to the Internet. The Memorandum references the need at Bureau of Indian Education-funded schools for upgraded internet access, but the priority is broader than schools, referencing opportunities for community members.
Support Implementation of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). The Memorandum states that implementation of ICWA requires support for tribal and state courts, social workers, and foster care, and services that keep families together including family services, home improvement programs, alternatives to incarceration and employment support services.
Reduce Teen Suicide. While noting there are programs that support suicide prevention in tribal communities, the Memorandum asks agencies to prioritize programs that meet students’ physical, emotional and social needs. It also notes the need for a “well-prepared behavioral health workforce and access to behavioral health services in Native communities.”
Increase Tribal Control of Criminal Justice. The Memorandum is supportive of more tribal control over law enforcement in their communities and instructs agencies to “give priority to investments that give tribes the tools they need to establish and maintain effective justice systems.”
Development of the President’s proposed FY 2017 budget is well underway. Generally agencies submit their initial budget requests to OMB in September; during November-December OMB sends the budget back to the agencies with its decisions (referred to as the “pass back”) ; during December agencies may appeal OMB decisions; and in early February of the following calendar year the President submits the proposed budget to Congress.
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