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NEW MEXICO FAMILY ADVOCACY PROGRAM
Strengthening Child Welfare Systems through Interdisciplinary Practice
OCTOBER 2018 – SEPTEMBER 2023
The New Mexico Family Advocacy Program (NMFAP) began as a pilot project in 2013 (formerly known as the Family Support Services) within the Thirteenth Judicial District. In September 2018, the NM Administrative Office of the Courts was awarded a five year, $7.7 million grant from the Children’s Bureau to further develop and scale the program across the state (Grant#: 90CO1136 / Program Service Office: ACF/ACYF/CB – Central Program Office / Program: Children’s Bureau / Grant Program: CO – Adoption Opportunities). The NMFAP adapted the interdisciplinary model of legal representation created by the New York Center for Family Representation and provided parents in child welfare cases a legal team composed of a respondent attorney, licensed master’s social worker and parent mentor (i.e., a parent with lived child welfare system experience). Utilizing the Cornerstone Advocacy approach, families were given enhanced advocacy and support for reunification or other preferred outcomes.
The NMFAP served six counties beginning with Bernalillo County (2nd Judicial District), Sandoval County and Valencia County (13th Judicial District), and expanded its reach to Cibola County (13th Judicial District) in July 2021, San Juan County (11th Judicial District) in September 2021, and McKinley County (11th Judicial District) in September 2022.
The experiences and data findings from similar initiatives across the U.S. gave credibility to the hypothesis that the program’s elevated model of parent representation would help hasten time to permanency for families, facilitate better outcomes, and improve parent and youth engagement with state child welfare agency caseworkers, foster parents and services. Per grant requirements, the program implemented a comprehensive evaluation to assess its impact. The NMFAP also measured it’s influence on improving the following Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSR) outcome measures:
- Permanency Outcome 1: Children have permanency and stability in their living situation
- Permanency Outcome 2: Continuity of family relationships and connections are preserved for children
- Well-Being Outcome 1: Families have an enhanced capacity to provide for their children’s needs
The final study results including long-term outcomes and other key findings are published below.