Two Albuquerque foster parents were arrested Wednesday and charged with child abuse after bringing one of their foster children to the hospital and reporting he was having trouble seeing.
After medical tests, doctors determined the 4-year-old boy’s blindness should be considered nonaccidental and evidence of abuse, possibly by shaking, the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department said.
Marcos Gomez, 32, and Sandra Caraveo, 37, had just become foster parents in May and had taken the boy and his 2-year-old sister into their care in June.
The boy is still in the hospital where he is being treated, and CYFD said his blindness may be permanent.
His sister was immediately taken away from Gomez and Caraveo and placed in another foster home. She will also be checked out by doctors for signs of abuse.
“This is heartbreaking, and I am praying for this child to heal and to eventually thrive,” said CYFD Secretary Yolanda Berumen-Deines. “Our entire mission is to keep kids safe, and we do everything we can to ensure their safety. We will continue to improve our system and strive to reduce maltreatment in foster care. This incident should not cast a shadow over the hundreds of exceptional foster parent families that we depend on to provide a loving and healing home for kids in crisis.”
CYFD said both parents were licensed and had gone through all the required state and federal background checks and attended the necessary trainings. The injured boy and his sister were the couple’s first foster children.
CYFD caseworkers visited the home multiple times since the children were placed there, and there had been no issues until the foster parents brought the boy to the hospital Sunday night.
Enrique Carlos Knell, spokesman for CYFD, said all first-time foster parents must have three visits from caseworkers within the first 30 days of placement, a new procedure designed to increase support and provide an effective safety assessment.
Since then the family was visited twice a month by caseworkers.
CYFD is conducting its own investigation of the case in addition to the criminal one.
Knell said in New Mexico there are no occurrences of maltreatment in 99.75 percent of all foster placements, exceeding the national standard of 99.67 percent.
— This article appeared on page C1 of the Albuquerque Journal