Memo to governor: Kids are dying on CYFD watch - Albuquerque Journal

Memo to governor: Kids are dying on CYFD watch

How many more children have to die under CYFD care?

How many more children have to be beaten or neglected and die before Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham puts her foot down and does something immediately to reform CYFD? After all, the person that ultimately holds CYFD accountable is the governor herself.

Headlines detailing horrific child abuse cases and even deaths of children under the watch of CYFD have become regular occurrences in our state. As if that isn’t bad enough, a lawsuit alleges “CYFD deleted information regarding a child’s death in 2019.” Albuquerque police body cam showed 4-year-old James Dunklee Cruz at an Albuquerque Urgent Care in October 2019. “His arm was bandaged up as investigators took pictures of markings on his body, including his genitals.” Two months later, James Dunklee Cruz was found dead, allegedly beaten to death by his mother’s roommate. “There are multiple instances of sexual abuse, and CYFD’s aware of it. It’s in their own records. They know, and they don’t do anything about it,” said attorney Alex Crecca, representing James Dunklee Cruz’s estate.

Enough is enough.

Major reform can happen today through changes in rules, regulations, policies and procedures. However, Lujan Grisham is avoiding responsibility and choosing the proverbial kick-the-can-down-the-road approach. Meanwhile, children are permanently harmed, even dying. These children can’t wait for another legislative session to come and go with no real solutions.

Upset by the Roe v. Wade decision, Lujan Grisham took immediate action and signed an executive order. Where is her anger regarding innocent children destroyed by New Mexico policies? Where is the demand for immediate action to save the lives of New Mexico’s most vulnerable children?

Instead of taking action based on verified reports and current studies, MLG spent $59,640 to review five high-profile incidents to develop “learning points.” That final report was to be completed … by April 15, yet all we’ve heard is crickets. A recent Albuquerque Journal article stated, “CYFD has refused to release the report,” citing “attorney-client privilege” as the reason for withholding the release. The governor, an attorney herself, knows this is nothing more than CYFD covering up the fact that it is not doing its job. Something is rotten in this branch of New Mexico’s government. (The report was released Friday morning.)

CYFD is shrouded in a veil of secrecy with no legitimate oversight or transparency. Children’s lives are at stake, and CYFD needs to release the investigation report immediately so we work together and find solutions. I have cosponsored and supported bipartisan bills over the past two years that would improve CYFD, only to watch them die in committee. The time is now to stop politicizing this issue, do what’s best for the children and put their needs first.

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