NM’s foster care advocates get new wings
August 29, 2015
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  • Thanks to a new partnership between New Mexico Kids Matter, the Child Youth and Families Department and Angel Flight introduced Saturday at the Double Eagle Airport, foster kids have better access to guardians.

    Saturday morning, a group of people with children in mind were on hand at Double Eagle Airport.  Though they looked like aviation enthusiasts, they were in fact court appointed special advocates, or “CASAs,” learning about flying.

    “Essentially, I am the voice for the children, I’m the advocate for the children,” Katie Londono said.

    Thanks to a new partnership between New Mexico Kids Matter, the Child Youth and Families Department and Angel Flight, Londono will have easier and more efficient access to the three children in her care.

    “Once we found out about it, we’re like, we’re in,” Veronica Montano-Pilch of New Mexico Kids Matter said.

    She said she forged the partnership recently after hearing of a similar partnership between CASAs and Angel Flight in North Texas.

    Montano-Pilch said, CASAs sometimes have foster cases in places as far away as Oregon, which makes it nearly impossible for them to see the children in-person on a regular basis.  It would simply cost too much time and money for the CASAs volunteers.

    But through Angel Flight, they will now have the ability to get where they need to go, often through smaller, more accessible airports, for free.

    “Pilots like to fly and when they have a purpose, a meaning, it makes it all that much more enjoyable,” Art Tangen, New Mexico’s Wing Leader of Angel Leader said.

    The average “mission” costs a pilot about $200 to $400, he said.

    “It is a commitment to them, but it’s what we do,” Tangen said.

    One of Londono’s foster children lives in Las Vegas, Nevada.  She hasn’t seen the child in-person in nearly two years.  Now, she’ll have the ability to make face-to-face contact more regularly, which she said will greatly benefit the child’s case.

    She said the other children live in New Mexico, but several hours away from Albuquerque.

    “They’ve been in the system for two years, and they’re on their third social worker,” Londono said.  “And so I’m one of the few people that’s been the same person from the beginning that they’ve seen.”