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New Mexico Family Advocacy Program

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New Mexico Family Advocacy Program

Strengthening Child Welfare Systems through Interdisciplinary Practice

The New Mexico Family Advocacy Program (NMFAP) provides parents in child welfare cases an interdisciplinary team of lawyers, social workers, and parent mentors so that families are given enhanced advocacy and support for reunification or other preferred outcomes. 

NM Family Advocacy Program logoThe NMFAP began as a pilot project in 2013 (formerly known as the Family Support Services) within the Thirteenth Judicial District.  In September 2018, the Administrative Office of the Courts was awarded a five year (2018-2023), $7.7 million grant from the Children’s Bureau to further develop and scale the program across the state.  

The program adapts the Cornerstone Advocacy model created by the New York Center for Family Representation to provide parents in child welfare cases an interdisciplinary legal team composed of a respondent attorney, licensed social worker and parent mentor (a parent who has lived child welfare system experience).  This elevated model of parent representation helps hasten time to permanency for families, facilitates better outcomes, and improves parent and youth engagement with the Children, Youth and Family Department (CYFD) caseworkers, foster parents and services.

The funding continues NMFAP services in Bernalillo County (2nd Judicial District), Sandoval County and Valencia County (13th Judicial District), and expands its reach to Cibola County (13th Judicial District) in July 2021 and San Juan County (11th Judicial District) in October 2021.  Future expansion is anticipated in 2022 to McKinley County (11th Judicial District) and Doña Ana County (3rd Judicial District).

This funding will increase NMFAP’s capacity to:

  • strengthen partnerships between state, tribal, county and community partners;
  • effectively engage children, youth, and families;
  • focus on the achievement of timely permanency for children;
  • appropriately assess and mitigate safety and risk factors in families;
  • provide timely and individualized services, resources, and supports for children in foster care and their parents; and,
  • increase parents’ capacities to protect and provide for their children.

NMFAP intends to improve 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  

Resources

NMFAP Practice Guide

NMFAP one-page description

Effects of an Interdisciplinary Approach to Parental Representation in Child Welfare (A summary of a recent research study in New York City)