The 2021 legislative session has officially ended. Thanks again for showing up for New Mexico’s young people this year. A remote, online session had its challenges, but we are grateful to you, our valued community, for advocating for positive change in the child welfare system. Here’s a snapshot of the good news resulting from the 2021 session:
- Fees for Vital Records for Homeless, House Bill 179 (sponsored by Rep. D. Wonda Johnson) passed both the House and Senate and is on its way to the governor! HB 179 waives fees to obtain a birth certificate for people experiencing homelessness and will also help youth experiencing homelessness by allowing them to access important vital documents.
- Delinquency Placements, Senate Bill 257 (sponsored by Sen. Michael Padilla) was tabled in the Senate Judiciary Committee. While NMCAN agrees that young people on probation living outside their homes need resources, the organization does not think placing them in the custody of the state to access supports is sound public policy. As written, the bill would have bypassed the Abuse and Neglect Act and, in doing so, would bypass the processes of the foster care system, including providing legal counsel for parents and reunification supports, as well as the guaranteed efforts toward permanency. Also, SB 257 contradicted all of the work completed over the last decade to avoid pulling youth deeper into systems. Moving forward, we hope that CYFD will bring together juvenile justice practitioners, legal stakeholders, young people and families, and community organizations to determine the best approach for supporting young people on probation.
We also want to recognize all the young people who engaged in the legislative process by calling and emailing elected officials to share what is important to them, providing testimony and even serving as expert witnesses in support of some legislation.
Shout out to Marissa, Alyssa, Andrew, Jasmine, Joanna, Krystal, Micaela, Pamela, Roy, Sammy, Selena, and Sheayenne for their commitment and hard work this legislative session!
Thank you so much for believing that young people deserve to have a voice in the systems created to support them. Please stay tuned for further updates about our advocacy efforts later this year. In the meantime, save the date of Tuesday, May 11, 2021, for our next Lunch with Youth Leaders.
If you have any immediate questions about the session, please contact Director of Policy and Advocacy Arika E. Sánchez.