National Center for Youth Law


Lea County Demonstration Site

This project will improve the educational outcomes of children in New Mexico’s care. Guided by an inter-agency state leadership team, and supported by an inter-agency local planning team, NCYL has initiated a demonstration project in Lea County that ensures every foster child and youth under probation jurisdiction has an education success plan, education champion and education team.

Lea County, New Mexico is home to approximately 50 young people in foster care and 50 young people on court-ordered probation at any given time. FosterEd works with these students to help them attain their full potential and achieve education success. Lea County is a rural county, like much of New Mexico, and 22% of children in the county live in poverty. The lessons learned from our Lea County site help us support students across New Mexico.

This project effort mirrors our successful efforts in Indiana, California and Arizona with an important difference: it is the first of our statewide efforts to include probation supervised youth. We are excited to serve probation supervised youth as they face similar barriers to educational success, and in many cases were previously in the foster care system.

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In December 2012, New Mexico’s Supreme Court established a Joint Education Task Force.  The Task Force, co-chaired by Senior Justice Petra Jimenez Maes and Governor Susana Martinez, was charged with recommending inter-agency strategies for addressing the educational needs of children and youth in the State’s custody.

In April 2014, the Task Force released a report and associated recommendations. One of the report’s primary recommendations was to partner with FosterEd to develop a FosterEd: New Mexico education liaison demonstration site and use it as the basis for a statewide FosterEd program. This recommendation was based on evidence from other states suggesting that such a program will improve the educational outcomes of children in the State’s care.

In summer of 2014, FosterEd committed to working in New Mexico and formed a state leadership team comprised of senior staff from New Mexico’s Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD), Public Education Department (PED), State Supreme Court and Governor’s Office. This leadership team guides and oversees our work in New Mexico. At their request, we investigated Bernalillo, Valencia, Lea and Dona Ana Counties as possible FosterEd: New Mexico demonstration sites. In 2015, our New Mexico leadership team selected Lea County as the FosterEd: New Mexico demonstration site.

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