A national organization that promotes the welfare of children of immigrants and their families has relocated to New Mexico State University’s College of Health and Social Services School of Social Work.
The Center on Immigration and Child Welfare was formerly housed at the University of Houston in Texas, but moved to NMSU because of its proximity to the border, said Megan Finno-Velasquez, founding member and director of the center.
“We’re starting to work with local organizations here in New Mexico on some of the frontline concerns that they’re having,” Finno-Velasquez said. “Because New Mexico has historically had immigrant-friendly policies and it’s a border state that, at a grassroots level, is very concerned for the welfare of immigrants, I think we felt that this would be the perfect location.”
The Center on Immigration and Child Welfare is a national peer membership organization that fosters cross-sector collaboration by linking and supporting professional across the child welfare, immigration and legal fields. The center, which was formerly known as the Migration and Child Welfare National Network, was founded in 2006. Since then, the center has focused on building capacity of the U.S. child welfare system to respond to the unique needs of immigrant families and children through research, resource development and dissemination, training and technical assistance, and national leadership by sponsoring cross-sector conferences, workgroups and advocacy initiatives.
“We are thrilled to have the center join our college,” said Donna Wagner, dean of the College of Health and Social Services. “Family policy initiatives are an essential tool in our work to improve the health of New Mexicans – the overall goal of our educational and service mission. Change comes from a marriage between education and policy and this new center will enhance our capacity to effect change.”
Finno-Velasquez said the organization’s focus is on developing knowledge, resources and best practices around how to work with immigrant families who find themselves grappling with both immigration and child welfare issues.
“Essentially what we have are two systems that conflict with one another,” Finno-Velasquez said. “The immigration system doesn’t always take the best of interests of the child and family into account, and that’s the pinnacle of the child welfare system.”
Finno-Velasquez said the center, which has more than 600 members nationwide, is in the process of organizing events surrounding its relaunch in May. The center is also looking into additional funding resources.
For more information about the center or how to get involved, visit http://cimmcw.org/.