Federal money supporting local Native American
Americanworkforce development may evaporate if Congress approves an effort
to streamline a variety of job-training funds.
The Streamlining Workforce Development Programs Act
Workforce Development Programs Act(H.R. 3610) is designed to eliminate
redundancy in federally funded job-training programs and reduce
"wasted" taxpayer money, says the bill's sponsor, Rep. Virginia Foxx,
But eliminating dedicated funding streams and placing state
governors in charge of distribution decisions could mean trouble for Indiana's
Native Americans, said Doug Poe, executive director and chief executive officer
Despite the fact that "Native Americans face several
barriers to employment," Poe said he fears Native Americans will
experience diminished priority and funding under a state-controlled system.
In fact, according to Poe, the state does not track
joblessness among Indiana's Native Americans.
"The State doesn't understand the population base and
its specific problems," Poe said, noting that much of the center's success
can be attributed to the trust his clients place in the native-operated
Established in 1992, the AICI serves members of federal- and
state-recognized tribes and the Miami Nation of Indiana, particularly those
wary of dealing with state agencies due to a lack of trust stemming from
historical trauma after generations of abuse.
The center does receive some grant money, but the center
relies on federal funds to pay for the office, salaries, insurance,
job training and educational assistance so that other funds can be dedicated to
"Without it, we can't continue cultural programs,"
Poe said. "If this bill passes, the state will take the funds and the
minimum will be dispersed. It will be the end of the Center – the only
state organization supplying cultural and medical needs to the Native American
A 2011 Government Accountability Office report identified 47
federal job-training programs that cost taxpayers $18 billion each year. Only
five have been evaluated for effectiveness.
Foxx believes that by consolidating 33 of the 47 programs
into four flexible Workforce Investment Funds her bill will increase
accountability, reduce administrative inefficiencies and foster a more
efficient and goal-oriented workforce development system to better serve job
seekers and employers.
Poe said he fears Native American services could become a
casualty of the effort and is rallying supporters of the native community to
contact their representatives.
"Now there is a focus on a national group, but by
allowing each state's governor to decide how much each 'targeted population'
gets, it breaks us into an insignificant number of people without an effective
political voice," Poe said.
The bill is currently under review in a House economic