Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice Excellence Awards Announced at CLI
At the annual CLI, Chief Justice Barbara Vigil and CYFD Secretary Monique Jacobson distributed awards for outstanding leadership and service in state and tribal systems serving children and families. Recipients of this honor included: Bianca Padilla, CYFD Juvenile Justice Staff; Deborah Yost, CYFD Protective Services Staff; Carol and Nathan Gingerich, Foster Parents; Cathy Bryant, CASA Volunteer; Leslie Jones, Contract Attorney; Mary Carr, CRB Member; Donalyn Sarracino, Tribal Social Services Staff; Lindsey Lucero, Juvenile Drug Court Program Manager; Michael Sousa, Public Defender in Delinquency; and Karen Townsend, Children’s Court Judge.
CWC Hosts USAID Visitors for Discussion of Children in the US Justice System
Back row: Beth Gillia, Alexander Crudu (Moldova), William Johnson, Ibra Ndoye (Senegal), Samuel Akolbire (Ghana), Jane Clarke. Front Row: Aileen El-Kadi (Global Ties ABQ), Laura Bassein, Adzlin Mohd Amin (Malaysia), Nita Gurung (Nepal), Shaundell Shipley (Guyana), Hala Bou Samra (Lebanon), Leslie Jones, Soledad Martinez.
For the second year running, the Corinne Wolfe Center was honored to host participants in the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program from Bangladesh, Ghana, Guyana, Lebanon, Malaysia, Moldova, Nepal, and Senegal. The visitors included victim services officers, juvenile corrections administrators, juvenile justice, child welfare and domestic violence professionals, and anti-child labor leaders.
We enjoyed a lively discussion focused on the goals, philosophy, and approaches of the child welfare system generally, as well as examples of innovative practices, including, for example, infant mental health teams, child protection mediation, the parent attorney-social worker model being piloted in Sandoval and Valencia Counties, the comprehensive approach to representing children and youth used by Pegasus Legal Services for Children. The visitors were especially interested in Judge William Johnson’s discussion of Indian children and tribal courts.
CWC attorneys (Beth Gillia, Laura Bassein) were joined by the Honorable William Johnson of Acoma Pueblo Tribal Court, Grace Spulak of Pegasus Legal Services for Children, Leslie Jones, an attorney who represents children, youth, and parents in child welfare cases, Dr. Jane Clarke of Early Childhood Mental Health, and Soledad Martinez, the Infant/Early Childhood Program Director at the Children, Youth and Families Department.
What are people saying about our trainings?
We believe that all families have strengths. A participant at one of our trainings confirmed that our trainers and staff respect all children and families:
For a little more than 20 years I have served on committees, attended trainings, trained nonprofit boards and worked in nonprofits related to child advocacy. For most of that time, I have had to sit and quietly bite my tongue while listening to attendees and trainers make comments and express assumptions that revealed deep ignorance based on race and class and often even a lack of basic respect and love for the children and families whose lives they were discussing....
This is the FIRST TIME I have attended a training where all the trainers were culturally aware and sensitive and obviously well-informed about the lives of the people our work affects. It was not only refreshing and reassuring but a massive relief to watch trainers skillfully educate from a place of direct experience and confidence whenever a participant asked a question in a way that revealed unfounded assumptions. As someone who grew up surrounded by adults struggling with addiction, crime, incarceration, mental health issues, and poverty, I have grown accustom[ed] to hearing myself, my family and my childhood friends spoken about in an objectifying manner as if the people who experience these struggles don't also experience the same thoughts and feelings as other human beings. It made my heart sing to hear some of the things the CLC staff as well as CYFD attorneys and staff explained and it made me feel more hopeful than ever that the era of well-intentioned but oblivious and privileged advocates may actually become a thing of the past. THANK YOU!
CLC Hosts International Visitors
On February 2, 2015, the Children’s Law Center was privileged to host six participants from the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program. The visitors from Ethiopia, Latvia, Malawi, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, and Turkey included judges, attorneys, government officials, and NGO leaders interested in how legal systems and advocacy can be used to protect children. We enjoyed a lively discussion focused on the goals, philosophy, and approaches of the child welfare system generally, as well as examples of innovative practices, including, for example, child protection mediation, the parent attorney-social worker model being piloted in Sandoval County, and the comprehensive approach to representing children and youth used by Pegasus Legal Services for Children. CLC attorneys (Beth Gillia, Laura Bassein, and Grace Spulak) were joined by Liz McGrath and Larry Kronen of Pegasus Legal Services for Children, Leslie Jones, an attorney who represents children, youth, and parents in child welfare cases, and Dominica Montaño, the supervising Social Worker with Family Support Services in the 13th Judicial District Court.
Back row: Larry Kronen (Pegasus), Anda Smiltena (Ministry of Justice, Latvia), Noris Mangulama (Malawi Human Rights Commission), Goktan Kocyildirim (Justice for Children, Turkey), Dominica Montaño (Family Support Services, 13th Judicial District Court), Beth Gillia (CLC). Front Row: Valentina Andelkovic (Department for Family Support and Social Protection, Serbia), Leslie Jones (Attorney), Laura Bassein (CLC), Liz McGrath (Pegasus), Selamawit Birhane (Child Justice Project Office, Federal Supreme Court, Ethiopia), Grace Spulak (CLC and Pegasus), Ghada Alhothali (Leadership Consulting Foundation, Saudi Arabia)
Corinne Wolfe Children's Law Center Receives State Bar's 2014 Outstanding Program Award
Corinne Wolfe Children’s Law Center Director Beth Gillia (left) receives Outstanding Program Award from State Bar of New Mexico President Erika Anderson.
The UNM Law School’s Corinne Wolfe Children’s Law Center received the 2014 Outstanding Program Award from the State Bar of New Mexico at the State Bar’s Annual Meeting on July 18, 2014.
“The Corinne Wolfe Children’s Law Center provides exceptional training, technical assistance, resources and services to improve the child welfare and juvenile justice systems in New Mexico benefitting the state’s most vulnerable children,” says Joe Conte, Executive Director of the State Bar.
CLC works very closely with lawyers, judges, and others in the field to provide training that responds to the specific needs of New Mexico’s children’s law professionals and volunteers statewide. CLC’s training on civil child abuse and neglect proceedings enables participants to more effectively address child safety and well-being and to expedite permanent placement for the children and youth in state custody; CLC training and resources on juvenile justice enable participants to better perform their functions, with the ultimate goals of increased public safety, increased rates of rehabilitation and decreased recidivism.
The New Mexico Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Network, volunteers throughout the U.S. who advocate for abused and neglected children, is among the organizations receiving training from CLC. “The Corinne Wolfe Children’s Law Center pushes us to be better tomorrow than we are today for the sake of New Mexico’s children and families,” says CASA Program Director Ellen L. Genné.
Pam Lambert, Manager of the Institute of Public Law at the UNM School of Law, says that the number of targeted educational programs and comprehensive resource manuals, direct technical assistance and mentoring the CLC produces is impressive. “These achievements are remarkable given the CLC’s very small budget and very few staff members, who nonetheless unwaveringly demonstrate daily passion and commitment to the audiences they serve,” says Lambert.