CWC Support for Contract and Court Appointed Attorneys

The Corinne Wolfe Center for Child and Family Justice (CWC) provides resources, training, and support to New Mexico’s guardians ad litem, youth attorneys, and respondent attorneys in child welfare cases. If you have a contract with the Administrative Office of the Courts (or you are appointed or retained privately) to represent a child, parent, guardian, or custodian in a civil abuse or neglect case), we’re here to help you.

New Mexico Child Welfare Handbook

Child Welfare Handbook

The Handbook is a comprehensive guide to New Mexico’s child abuse and neglect process that incorporates the requirements of the Children’s Code, the Children’s Court Rules, court cases, and federal laws. It describes the roles and responsibilities of certain key participants, explains the hearings and related proceedings, evidence, psychological considerations, and special provisions for Indian children. A searchable version of the Handbook is available to download on our Resources page.

Active Attorney Listservs

The CWC hosts one listserv for guardians ad litem and youth attorneys and another for respondent attorneys. These listservs:

  • connect you to other attorneys in the field,
  • allow you to ask your colleagues questions and share information and documents (like sample pleadings),
  • announce upcoming training opportunities, and
  • distribute legal updates (cases and case summaries, new statutes and rules) and other helpful resources (such as guides, articles, and checklists).

To join one or both listservs, contact Cristen Conley.

One-on-One Technical Support for Attorneys

CWC’s experienced and knowledgeable attorneys are available for confidential consultations. If you have questions or need to run an idea, question, or strategy by someone, feel free to call us for assistance or

Contract Attorney Forms Bank

This password-protected bank includes an assortment of forms, pleadings, and documents developed and used by contract attorneys throughout the state. Although we endeavor to keep the forms as current as possible, we do not guarantee that the forms are current or accurate. The forms are intended as samples and guidance only. It is your responsibility to refer to the applicable law (statutes, rules—including local rules—and cases) to determine the content and formatting required in particular cases. Documents are loosely organized under GAL YA or RA, but some may be relevant for any of the three roles. If you are a contract attorney (or are appointed to represent parents or children in NM child welfare cases) and would like to access these forms, please contact Cristen Conley for log-in information. Once you have your login information, you will be able to access the forms below.

Click here to access the forms


Attorneys representing children, youth, or parents in civil abuse or neglect cases are expected to participate in annual specialized training related to their work. Contracts with the Administrative Office of the Courts and the NM Supreme Court’s Performance Standards expect contract attorneys to engage in at least 10 hours of this specialized training annually. Attorneys can meet this requirement by attending:

  • the annual NM Children’s Law Institute (held in January each year),
  • annual cross-training (held regionally in the spring),
  • periodic contract attorney training hosted by the CLC, or
  • the CLC’s annual "core curriculum," Essential Information for Practicing and Presiding in Child Welfare Cases (held each summer in conjunction with our Short Term Intensive Mentoring Program).

Contract attorneys with less than three years of experience with the NM Children’s Code are required by their contracts with the AOC to attend the CLC’s annual “core curriculum” or an approved substitute. Contractors with more than 3 years of experience are also encouraged to attend the “core curriculum.”

Essential Information for Practicing and Presiding in Child Welfare Cases

A core curriculum for judges and lawyers

CWC provides 2+ days of training that introduce the central legal concepts and practices unique to civil child abuse and neglect cases in New Mexico. The training is perfect for both new and experienced judges and contract attorneys. This "core curriculum" provides a comprehensive overview of the child welfare system, from investigation to appeal, emphasizing constitutional and statutory requirements that apply to in-court proceedings and out-of-court events. The training covers:

  • The Medical Manifestations of Child Abuse and Neglect
  • A History and Overview of Key Principles
  • How a Family Enters the System
  • The Role of the Court and the Parties at Each Phase of the Case
  • Zealous Representation and Advocacy in a Collaborative System
  • Introduction to the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)
  • Lawyering in Mediation

Please see our Programs Calendar for the next available training dates.

Short Term Intensive Mentoring (STIM)

Our Mentoring Program pairs a new contract or court appointed attorneys with experienced child welfare practitioners for a short-term, intensive mentoring experience. The mentorship begins with a half-day live program that immediately precedes the core curriculum. At the live program mentors and protégés meet each other and discuss concerns, experiences, and goals. Both parties will usually attend the Core training together. The live program is followed by six weeks of contact designed to help improve attorney confidence, knowledge and skill.

If you would like to be mentored, please contact Senior Attorney, Cristen Conley.