The governor’s sudden interest in resolving the service delivery issues plaguing the Children Youth and Families Department is encouraging. But, from personal experience, I can say that these issues have been going on in New Mexico homes for decades. My sisters, my brother and I grew up in foster homes, as well as the All Faiths Receiving Home, when it was a residential facility for homeless children.
Last year, I worked to find solutions to the problems facing CYFD by meeting with various child and protective service advocacy groups, and held a large town hall style meeting on the subject in my district. I invited the governor’s staff, including the Cabinet secretary and area protective services managers. Unfortunately, none showed up. Since the governor’s staff didn’t show up, I had to go the route of legislation to obtain information. In doing so, I sponsored Senate Joint Memorial 3, which sought to obtain 27 different data points and other information related to child protective services, foster care and adoption programs. The governor’s staff did show up to one of my legislative hearings to oppose the legislation, citing that the department would need $60,000 to gather the data, because it was not available. The department has reverted over $6 million in unused funding since the governor has been in office, and the lack of available data and information demonstrates that it is needed in order to make better decisions. With bipartisan support, my legislation was adopted by the Legislature.
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