I learned my strength as an advocate… You don’t have to fit a mold to be a leader. Everyone can be an advocate for themselves and for others. –Andrew, age 20
We work closely with young people and our community to lead change in the child welfare system. All children and youth impacted by systems in New Mexico benefit from our ongoing advocacy efforts. We leverage our direct services and our relationships with state decision makers to drive systems change. NMCAN’s Youth Leaders Policy Blueprint was created in partnership with young people and identifies four priority areas:
- Normalize the foster care experience
- Young people aging out of foster care must be better prepared to transition to adulthood and have access to opportunities for success
- Young people in care must experience permanence
- Children and youth in care must receive high quality advocacy
- Extended foster care will allow young people to opt into age-appropriate supports up to age 21, allowing them continued and uninterrupted access to resources like case-management, living stipends, and court review to ensure youth well-being.
- New Mexico become the first state in the United States to offer a tax credit for hiring current or former foster youth. Learn more.
- The Support for Transferring Students Law requires high schools to provide student records to the new school within two days of transfer, offer priority placement in classes that meet state graduation requirements, and issue a diploma if systems-involved youth meet state graduation requirements, even if the district has different requirements. Learn more.
- A tuition waiver gives transition-age foster youth access to free college tuition at public colleges or universities. Learn more.
- Expanded Medicaid covers foster youth aging out of care regardless of which state they lived.
- The creation of a prudent parenting standard into administrative code along with other mechanisms normalize the foster care experience.