The AFCC-CA mentorship program continues to gain momentum, and take form and shape. Specifically, at the AFCC-CA February 2017 conference, the importance of professional mentorship was underscored during Plenary 3: “Streamlining Family Courts and Custody Evaluations: What Needs to Change.” Also, it was noteworthy that the AFCC-CA membership got an opportunity to hear firsthand about many of the challenging dilemmas and scenarios that early career custody evaluators and “custody evaluators-in-training” face in their work and training, and how receiving ongoing professional mentorship served as a buffer to many of these obstacles. Lastly, after Plenary 3, many more experienced custody evaluators at AFCC-CA have enthusiastically stepped forward to offer their mentorship and support to early career custody evaluators and custody evaluators-in-training.
It is very promising that so many seasoned custody evaluators are willing to give their time to provide mentorship to early career custody evaluators and custody evaluators‐in-training. However, we still have a dilemma. Namely, there are more seasoned custody evaluators willing to offer their mentorship than there are early career custody evaluators and custody evaluatorsin-training to mentor. Given this circumstance, what can be done to get more mental health professionals in the field? There are numerous ways to approach this problem and the AFCC-CA mentorship program is likely one of many viable solutions.
With guidance and support from the AFCC-CA board, the AFCC-CA mentorship program will be developing a series action steps aimed at bringing more mental health professionals into the field of custody evaluation, and providing support to early career custody evaluators. These steps are as follows:
1. Develop relationships with the national and local mental health and family law organizations to spread the word about the AFCC-CA mentorship program and its benefits.
2. Develop relationships with undergraduate and graduate law and psychology programs to spread the word about the AFCC‐CA mentorship program and its benefits.
3. Create a professional space and forum for early career custody evaluators and custody evaluators-in training at the each AFCC-CA conference.
4. Create leadership opportunities for early and mid-career custody evaluators within AFCC-CA.
5. Write articles in other psychology, mental health and family law newsletters about the benefits and rewards of becoming and working as a custody evaluator.
This is not an exhaustive list of action steps but rather the first in an ongoing series. If you have questions about any of these action steps or the mentorship program please do not hesitate to contact Frank Davis, Ph.D. at firstname.lastname@example.org.