Family Representation and Advocacy Act

Family Representation and Advocacy Act

March 9, 2022 Update:

Yesterday the Governor signed HB 46, The Family Representation and Advocacy Act, a law that will establish an independent office to provide legal representation to children, youth, and parents in cases involving allegations of abuse and neglect.

The creation of this office is a critical step in ensuring children and families have access to high-quality legal representation and we commend the Governor for signing this important legislation into law.

We want to recognize all the young people, partners, and community members who supported this bill and helped make it a law. Thank you for continuing to listen to the voices of young people impacted by systems, and believing in the power of reimagining systems designed to support young people and families! 

This is a huge success and we hope everyone takes a moment to celebrate. We will be providing more updates on our ongoing systems-change work soon, and continuing to keep this momentum going throughout 2022!

February 18, 2022 Update: Thanks to all of the community members, partner organizations, and young people who have worked tirelessly to advocate for HB 46. The Family Representation and Advocacy Act (sponsored by Rep. Chasey and Sen. Lopez) passed both the House and Senate!

This is a HUGE win for young people and families across the state involved in abuse and neglect cases, as well as the attorneys who will now have the resources and support to ensure the best outcomes for families.

HB 46, The Family Representation and Advocacy Act, is on its way to the Governor’s desk to be signed and we encourage everyone to contact her in support of the bill.

Thank you to everyone who has supported this effort to get New Mexico’s families the high-quality legal representation they need and deserve.

The creation of the Office of Family Representation and Advocacy, House Bill 46 (sponsored by Rep. Gail Chasey) and Senate Bill 31 (sponsored by Sen. Linda Lopez) will ensure that children, young people, and parents in abuse and neglect proceedings across the state receive high-quality legal representation.

The Issue

State laws require that every parent, youth, and child in an abuse and neglect case be appointed an attorney before the first hearing and for the duration of the case. Yet, current representation has several issues including overall poor quality of representation, lack of uniformity in representation, caseload mismanagement, inadequate compensation, and lack of monitoring and oversight. This frequently results in delays in permanency and hindrances to other positive outcomes for families. Inconsistencies and deficiencies in representation and advocacy lead to children remaining in foster care for longer periods of time than necessary, often creating lasting damage for children and their families.

There is a lot of inconsistency when it comes to prioritizing families and properly representing them. Parents are often painted in a negative light and this impacts the whole case. If my mom and I had lawyers who better represented our interests, we could have repaired our relationships way sooner. That’s what I want for kids and youth who are now in foster care.

– Young Person

The Opportunity

The creation of the Office of Family Representation and Advocacy is an opportunity to carefully manage, standardize, and monitor performance and outcomes to ensure high-quality legal representation for families across the state. By providing extensive training, instituting quality control, and developing collaborative teams that include all of the participants in the case, the Office will help children and families successfully access the resources they need to keep their family together whenever possible, and to find other means of permanency if necessary.

As a parent, I wish my lawyer had told me what was happening in my case and what to expect for meetings and hearings. It’s an overwhelming process and I think if I had understood it, I could have been a better advocate for myself and my lawyer could have been a better advocate for me.

– Young Person

Learn More