CYFD lacks the leadership to protect NM's children - Albuquerque Journal

CYFD lacks the leadership to protect NM’s children

New Mexico’s Children Youth & Families Department social workers need support and leadership. However, the recent Collaborative Safety review of CYFD revealed they are working under a “culture of fear.” Imagine having your job threatened while trying to save the life of a child or protect them from their abuser.

As a former Albuquerque Police Department child abuse detective, I have witnessed firsthand CYFD’s overwhelming case load. Social workers were so stressed from large case loads, knowing they may not be able to get to every case in time. I have also seen how wrong it is, with staff shortages, to have to decide which child gets prioritized for services. Every single New Mexico child needs to be a priority. But if your agency lacks leadership, is understaffed and overwhelmed, it is impossible to succeed.

Back then, our offices were integrated within CYFD. My colleagues and I worked daily with social workers and staff, establishing collaborative relationships with open lines of communication and the ability to rely on one another each and every day. It was a team effort allowing us to resolve critical cases more quickly, efficiently and effectively. I was also a member of the Child Fatality Review Panel; every year death prevention recommendations were sent to the governor and legislators.

CYFD needs leadership that will focus on child death prevention and poverty issues our families face on a daily basis; child suicide accounts for one third of our child deaths, and 25% of our children under 18 are living in poverty.

With true reform of CYFD, New Mexico’s at-risk children would have a better chance of receiving life-saving, time-sensitive support from social workers, law enforcement, nonprofits and the judicial system. There is a vast pool of retiring senior investigators from local and state law enforcement: we should allow for these fully trained people to work at CYFD as an immediate ready force to assist social workers with triage and investigations. Our juvenile court also plays an integral role in placement and foster care. It is very difficult to adopt or become a foster parent. It would be beneficial for kids in need of foster care, behavioral health and placement programs to streamline these systems immediately.

While I can provide numerous additional solutions, one I will work aggressively on when elected to Congress is ensuring CYFD, the Child Fatality Review Panel, law enforcement and our juvenile courts have priority access to federal grant funding. This will allow them to increase their staffing, update tracking systems, and ensure they have the tools and resources they need to protect New Mexico’s children and do their job effectively.

In New Mexico, we have the reputation of having some of the most horrific homicides of children. News stories about the Victoria Martens case should have been a wake-up call for each and every elected official to act. Yet our governor and Congresswoman Melanie Stansbury remain silent on this issue. When they ran for office, they claimed they would be leaders who would help children. If they were truly leaders, they would help CYFD to succeed, lead our children to succeed, guide our families to succeed and support an economy that would lift our families out of poverty. That’s what leaders do; they lead you to succeed.


Home » Opinion » Guest Columns » CYFD lacks the leadership to protect NM’s children

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

taboola desktop

The end of the race -- Florida shelter for ...
'Back in the early 90s, we ... 'Back in the early 90s, we made a promise to all those greyhounds that had no place to go'
‘Stray’: How a virtual orange tabby is helping real ...
Livestreaming game play for charity isn't ... Livestreaming game play for charity isn't new, but the resonance "Stray" quickly found from cat lovers is unusual.
Tears of joy fill Isotopes' locker room after Bernard ...
ABQnews Seeker
After more than 1,000 games and ... After more than 1,000 games and a decade in the minors, Wynton Bernard gets his Major League call up to the Colorado Rockies.
Editorial: PED’s ‘restorative’ discipline should not forget victims
The New Mexico Public Education Department's ... The New Mexico Public Education Department's heart is in the right place with a new discipline ...
As lawmakers eye changes, NM gets low marks for ...
ABQnews Seeker
Legislature looking to retool structure amid ... Legislature looking to retool structure amid ongoing revenue boom
Republicans open Hispanic community center in ABQ
ABQnews Seeker
GOP aims to attract groups who ... GOP aims to attract groups who typically vote Democrat
Forensics return from ‘Rust’ set
ABQnews Seeker
Sheriff's Office says agency still needs ... Sheriff's Office says agency still needs to review Alec Baldwin's phone records
Fishing Line for Aug. 11, 2022
Fishing Line
Project Healing Waters gives disabled military personnel a line ...
From the newspaper
Organization has fly-fishing programs in Albuquerque ... Organization has fly-fishing programs in Albuquerque and Taos