PNM, CYFD ease stress of foster care kids - Albuquerque Journal

PNM, CYFD ease stress of foster care kids

Among the items included in duffel bags for children being placed in foster care are clothing, blankets, toiletries, toys and more. (Rick Nathanson/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

When children come into the care of the state Children, Youth and Families Department, they’re able to bring only a few items with them, and those possessions are often stuffed into a plain garbage bag.

On Thursday, CYFD and the Public Service Company of New Mexico kicked off their joint Duffels With Dignity project, in which 1,200 new duffel bags containing newly purchased clothing, toiletries, toys and other personal items will be provided to children taken from their homes and placed in foster care.

“Being removed from your home would be traumatic to anyone,” but especially for a child who is suddenly thrust into new surroundings, CYFD Deputy Secretary Terry Locke said at a news conference outside the Walmart on Carlisle near Menaul in Albuquerque. “Providing children with items that they know are their own gives comfort during a time of confusion, fear and drastic change.”

bright spotWhile CYFD does periodically get donations of luggage from community members, “large luggage is generally not practical for a child in foster placement,” Locke said. The new duffel bags are sturdy, can be stored easily and do not feature logos, allowing children to personalize them, he said.

The idea for Duffels With Dignity originated with PNM employees who had some connection to CYFD – as foster parents, were themselves in foster care as children, or adopted children out of foster care, said PNM spokeswoman Shannon Jackson.

They also wanted to “help instill a sense of dignity within each child as they navigate a transition that can be intimidating and frightening,” said Henry Monroy, a PNM vice president.

“Each duffel bag includes a handwritten note of encouragement from PNM employees, saying such things as ‘even people you don’t know are proud of you’ and ‘you are a treasure’ or ‘you are so special.’ So, each child who receives a duffel bag will know they are cared for and has someone in their corner,” Monroy said.

In addition, he said, PNM will be donating another $9,000 to the project on top of funds already committed, bringing their total contribution to $25,000.

There are currently just over 1,900 children in foster care in New Mexico, said CYFD spokesman Charlie Moore-Pabst. In 2020, 1,156 kids were placed in foster care, some of them more than once. That same year, 1,418 kids exited the system, he said.


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