Child Trends Comments on Technical Assistance Needs and Priorities on Implementation and Coordination of Early Childhood Development Programs in American Indian and Alaska Native Communities

Research BriefEarly ChildhoodMay 5 2022

Child Trends has responded to a Request for Information from the federal Administration for Children and Families (ACF) on technical assistance (TA) needs for American Indian and Alaska Native communities providing early childhood programs and services. In our response, we used the terms “Indigenous Nations, Peoples, and communities” to recognize that ACF TA serves Alaska Natives, American Indians, Native Hawaiians, and Other Pacific Islanders, and that our comments are applicable to all these populations. We sought to emphasize that TA that is grounded in a strong understanding of the Indigenous communities being served, and that occurs in true partnership with these communities, can be a powerful means of supporting the effective implementation of early childhood systems.

Our comments are based on decades of experience in conducting research and analysis and providing support and TA to a variety of leaders, including those within Indigenous Nations; to programs that serve Indigenous children and families; to early childhood programs; and to states. The following are highlighted recommendations for TA providers from our comments:

  • Invest in TA efforts that address the following priority areas to support the implementation and coordination of early childhood programs in Indigenous communities:
    • Recruitment, hiring, and staff retention
    • Strategies to support Indigenous Nation-to-Nation peer learning
    • The integration of Indigenous languages and cultures within early childhood systems
    • Data collection, management, data systems, Indigenous data sovereignty, and intellectual property rights
    • Strategies for leveraging technology
    • Management and coordination of separate programs, funding sources, and reporting requirements
    • Construction and design of new facilities for Indigenous communities
    • Research translation, specifically for Indigenous settings
  • Increase TA provider capacity around the following topics:
    • Providing culturally appropriate TA that draws on Indigenous understandings of health and well-being, subsistence, the land, medicinal plants, community strengths, and the role of culture and spirituality in health
    • Understanding colonization, federal Indian law and policy, the histories of different Indigenous Nations and their unique cultures, and the roles of cultural activities and events
    • Building a robust regional knowledge base
    • Building trust and creating relationships with Indigenous communities
    • Respecting and privileging Indigenous sovereignty and Knowledge, including the Knowledge carried by Elders, the importance of Indigenous languages, storytelling as a way of teaching, and subsistence practices
  • Connect TA providers with existing resources and other Indigenous communities, researchers, and TA providers.
  • Ensure that TA efforts address specific and unique needs for different types of communities.

In addition to these recommendations, we provided links to resources that will be useful for TA providers to meet the needs of early childhood programs in Indigenous Nations and communities.

Suggested Citation

Gordon, H. S. J., Around Him, D., Jordan, E., & Emig, C. (2022). Child Trends comments on technical assistance needs and priorities on implementation and coordination of early childhood development programs in American Indian and Alaska Native communities. [Comments in response to Request for Information from the federal Administration for Children and Families.] Child Trends.