About the Council
The Substitute Care Advisory Council (Council) is authorized by New Mexico state law, the Citizen Substitute Care Review Act (Act), §§32A-8-1 et seq.
The purpose of the Act is to provide a permanent system for independent and objective monitoring of children placed in the custody of the NM Children, Youth & Families Department (CYFD) and evaluate the extent to which CYFD is effectively discharging its child protection responsibilities. The Act, as revised July 1, 2016, established the Council which is administratively attached to the NM Regulation & Licensing Department in accordance with the provisions of Section 9-1-7 NMSA 1978.
The general purpose of the Council is to oversee substitute care review boards in their monitoring of children placed in the custody of CYFD to identify systemic policy issues regarding substitute care.
Substitute care review boards under the Act have been identified by CYFD to meet its Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) requirements for citizen review panels. See the ‘Volunteers’ link at the top of this page for more information on citizen participation.
Per the Act, the responsibilities of the Council include:
- Meet at least twice.
- Appoint a 6 member advisory committee from the membership.
- Present a report with recommendations to CYFD, the courts and appropriate legislative interim committees, on or before November 1 of each year, regarding statutes, rules, policies and procedures relating to substitute care and any recommendations for changes in substitute care review boards.
- Adopt reasonable rules relating to the functions and procedures of the substitute care review boards and the Council in accordance with the duties of the boards as provided in the Act. Rules shall include:
- Criteria for membership and training requirements for substitute care board members;
- Information needed for cases to be monitored;
- Case information to be tracked and reported;
- Criteria for procedures for substitute care review boards and designation of cases for review, including weighing the importance of:
- sibling placements;
- frequency and severity of neglect or abuse;
- behavioral health status of household members;
- placement of children in households where there are no relatives of the children;
- data related to demographics; and
- relevant trend data.
The Act requires the Council to appoint a 6 member Advisory Committee to one year renewable terms. The members are selected from the current membership. The Advisory Committee advises the Council on matters related to substitute care review.
Maria Ortiz Bustos (Doña Ana County)
Jack Carpenter (Taos County)
Mary Carr (Eddy County)
Shannon Poynter (Taos County)
Yvonne Tallent (San Miguel County)
Nancy Treat (Santa Fe County)
Per NMAC 8.26.7, the Council meets at least quarterly and may meet more frequently upon the call of the Chair. In accordance with the Council’s Open Meetings Act Resolution adopted July 7, 2020 notices to meetings are provided on this website.
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Council Annual Reports
The Act requires the Council to issue an annual report on or before 1 November to CYFD, the courts and interim legislative committees. The report includes recommendations regarding statutes, rules, policies and procedures relating to substitute care. The Act does not require any response from CYFD, the courts or interim legislative committees.
As CYFD identifies the substitute care boards to meet its federal requirement under CAPTA, CAPTA does require CYFD to provide a written response to the annual report within 6 months of the date of the submission of the annual report.
Per CAPTA, the written response “describes whether or how [CYFD] will incorporate the recommendations of the [Council] (where appropriate) to make measurable progress in improving the State and local child protection system”. Click below for the Council’s annual report and CYFD’s written response.
The Council did not have a quorum to approve an annual report specific to FY 21. It is anticipated the Council’s FY 22 report will include both FY 21 and FY 22 data. In the interim the Council provided a letter to CYFD to which CYFD responded.
The Act allows the Council to ‘hire staff and contract for services to carry out the purposes of the’ Act. Click on the positions below for a brief introduction to the staff of the Council.
Shelly A. Bucher, LMSW serves as the Director for the Council. She has been in this position since October 2016 having previously administered a contract for citizen review boards. Ms. Bucher holds a Master of Social Work with a concentration in Administration from the University of Kansas and a Bachelor of Social Work and a BS in Human Development and Family Studies from Kansas State University. She has 34 years of child welfare experience; 22 years of which are in NM. Some of her past positions include:
Director, Southwest Region National Child Protection Center at NMSU.
Interim Director NMSU School of Social Work (3 years).
General Inspection Specialist, European Command Headquarters, Stuttgart Germany.
Relocation Readiness Program Manager, Army Community Services, Stuttgart Germany.
Settlement Administrator, Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services (SRS).
Director Child Development Center, Saudi Arabia.
Social Worker (Investigations/Foster Care), KS SRS.
Ray Villegas is an Air Force veteran and retired Postmaster who, since October 2016, has been sharing his knowledge and skills to organize and maintain resources to support the functioning of Council Staff. Mr. Villegas is from Deming, NM and attended Western New Mexico University.
In FY 20 the Council adopted the Quality Services Review (QSR) model for the review of children/youth in the custody of CYFD. The QSR model examines delivery of services and adherence to practice expectations.
According to the Center for Study of Social Policy: “The rigorous QSR process is an integral part of continuous quality improvement efforts and should be used to inform system practice changes.”
The QSR model is used in some form in 20 states, including Washington D. C. it identifies:
- What is working and what isn’t working at the point of practice.
- Immediate adjustments to front-line practice.
- Realistic solutions that lead to immediate action.
- Local and state-level system trends and policy needs.
Council Staff of Director and Coordinators must be certified in the QSR model and volunteers must complete QSR orientation training.
Case Review Selection Criteria
All children and youth in the custody of CYFD may have their progress towards permanency reviewed by the Council.
A community member or Interested Party in a specific case may request the Council review a case. Click on ‘send us a message’ at the top of the page to request a child/youth for review.
Other factors considered for case review include:
- Placement in institutions or congregate care.
- Number of changes of placements.
- Youth aged 13-18.
- Sibling groups/sibling splits.
- Follow up on past reviews.