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Foster-Ed Initiative Launches Demonstration Site in Lea County, New Mexico
By Grace Spulak

New Mexico

FosterEd: New Mexico Team – Grace Spulak, Amy Dunlap and Atasi Uppal

NCYL’s FosterEd Initiative has launched a demonstration site in Lea County, New Mexico, aimed at improving the educational outcomes of students in the foster care and probation systems. The project – developed and implemented in partnership with the New Mexico Children, Youth, and Families Department (CYFD), the Juvenile Court, and local school districts – will ensure that these students are supported by educational champions and multidisciplinary teams that set and track their progress towards educational goals. Lea County is home to approximately 150 school-age children and youth in the State’s care.

FosterEd: New Mexico began accepting case referrals in March after a planning and pre-implementation phase that included securing agency partnerships, developing community relationships, and documenting case processes. Implementation is being led by New Mexico Director Grace Spulak, an attorney with extensive experience representing children and youth in New Mexico, and Chief Education Liaison Amy Dunlap, who brings her expertise as a former CYFD social worker and in-home services specialist. Grace and Amy, along with FosterEd’s National Director Michelle Traiman and FosterEd-Juvenile Justice Attorney Atasi Uppal, convened the project’s first Community Partner Meeting on March 10. In addition to partner agency staff, representatives from the county’s public health office, the sheriff’s department, and other community service providers attended and expressed support for the program.

The FosterEd: New Mexico team will also be working with state-level partners to begin discussing the possibility of statewide processes and programs to support the educational needs of students in the foster care and probation systems.