New CYFD committee meetings not open to public - Albuquerque Journal

New CYFD committee meetings not open to public

CYFD Secretary Barbara Vigil. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

A new ad hoc committee created to find ways to improve the state Children, Youth and Families Department includes lawmakers and child advocates among its members. But the public won’t be allowed to attend its meetings.

A CYFD official told the Journal a meeting of the “Enhancing Delivery of Services Steering Committee” scheduled for Wednesday in Santa Fe wasn’t open to the public and refused to permit a Journal reporter to attend online via a Zoom link.

The 24-member committee was to get an update regarding a still-confidential review by an outside consultant hired by the agency’s leadership to evaluate CYFD’s response to child fatality and critical incidents.

CYFD has refused to release the outside review publicly, citing “attorney-client” privilege. A spokesman for the agency promised last week the report from Collaborative Strategies LLC would be made public soon, after a review by CYFD attorneys.

The committee includes five state legislators, three state court judges, and representatives from Native American groups and child welfare agencies.

The new administration of CYFD Secretary Barbara Vigil pledged to increase transparency and accountability at the agency after she took over from Brian Blalock, who resigned last summer. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said at the time his departure was a “mutually agreed-upon decision.”

Vigil ordered the outside review of the embattled agency’s response to critical incidents, including child fatalities, in January. And the CYFD steering committee was created about the same time. Its first meeting was in June.

The group’s second meeting was slated to address the outside review, CYFD grievance and complaint procedures, retaliation of employees, and an announcement about the steering committee on CYFD’s website, according to its agenda.

In response to a Journal reporter’s request to attend the meeting, CYFD children’s rights specialist Jennifer M. Martinez replied, “It is not open to the public. We are working to get information posted on our website about these meetings.”

Asked to explain, CYFD spokesman Rob Johnson later told the Journal in an email, “The steering committee is a group of CYFD staff and invited external partners. Our purpose is to have a free and open discussion about policy issues, especially regarding how the department can better deliver services. The meetings are for steering committee members only.

“While this committee, by definition, would not fall within the Open Meetings Act, one of the cornerstones of this committee is that it is open and transparent in its recommendations,” Johnson wrote. “We will post meeting minutes on the CYFD website.”

The group’s mission, according to the CYFD website, is to “take an informed measure of the public-child welfare system in New Mexico, then use those insights to help the CYFD enhance the delivery of services to state’s children and families.”

The members of the committee include chief judges of state District Court and Children’s Court in Bernalillo County, and Chief District Judge Angie Schneider of Alamogordo.

Of five legislators on the committee, all but one are Democrats. The legislators on the committee are: Sens. Linda Lopez and Gerald Ortiz y Pino, both Albuquerque Democrats, and Sen. Gay Kernan, R-Hobbs. Reps. Meredith Dixon, D-Albuquerque, and Candie Sweetser, D-Deming, are also members.

Other members include representatives of the Navajo Nation, Isleta Pueblo, Acoma Pueblo and nonprofit groups that include Disability Rights New Mexico, New Mexico Family Advocacy Center, High Desert Family Services, New Mexico Dream Center, Advocacy Inc., NM Child First Network and others.

“While the background of the membership is broad, the focus is tight,” the website states. “The key is to concentrate on six specific areas – Courts (And Children’s Court Improvement Commission); Schools, Advocates and Community Supports; Parents’ Voices; Youth with Lived Experience; Native Children & Families; and Resource Families, Adoptions & Guardianships.”

The committee’s report will include public comment, the website states, and ultimately will be released to the public.

Home » ABQnews Seeker » New CYFD committee meetings not open to public


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
Tesla announces second New Mexico dealership
ABQnews Seeker
The new location will be located ... The new location will be located near Albuquerque on land belonging to ....
2
Special Shape Rodeo features 120 hot air balloons
ABQnews Seeker
An event where dinosaurs mingle with ... An event where dinosaurs mingle with Star Wars heroes
3
Delivering hope and friendship
ABQnews Seeker
'Pandemic Pizza Man' looks to inspire ... 'Pandemic Pizza Man' looks to inspire others
4
Vara releases two new sparkling wines
ABQnews Seeker
Vara Winery & Distillery has released ... Vara Winery & Distillery has released Silverhead Brut NV ($25) and Silverhead Brut Rosado NV ($27).
5
Lainey Wilson to hit the stage at the 2022 ...
ABQnews Seeker
Lainey Wilson will perform in Albuquerque ... Lainey Wilson will perform in Albuquerque at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8, during Music Fiesta at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.
6
Lobo hoops notebook: TV games announced, some dates changed
ABQnews Seeker
Every conference game to be on ... Every conference game to be on TV
7
Happy landing as 'baby bee' is reunited with parents
ABQnews Seeker
'The bee is safe,' police chief ... 'The bee is safe,' police chief declares, attributing the quick recovery to ‘old-fashioned detective work’
8
Pence visits NM to campaign with Ronchetti
2022 election
GOP heavyweights weighing in on the ... GOP heavyweights weighing in on the race
9
Bernalillo County birds test positive for avian flu
ABQnews Seeker
This is the first confirmed positive ... This is the first confirmed positive test for the disease this year