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City funds full-time APD liaison with child abuse agencies

Deedee Strand, left, and Clair Johnson, with All Faiths, look at photos that are part of the Heart Gallery of New Mexico. The professional portraits feature kids in foster care who are available immediately for adoption. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

Deedee Strand, left, and Clair Johnson, with All Faiths, look at photos that are part of the Heart Gallery of New Mexico. The professional portraits feature kids in foster care who are available immediately for adoption. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The city is funding a full-time liaison in the Albuquerque Police Department to work with other agencies that deal with child abuse, in addition to a task force that will offer solutions for reporting and preventing abuse.

Mayor Richard J. Berry made that announcement during his opening remarks at a child abuse awareness and prevention summit held Friday in the Albuquerque Convention Center. It was sponsored by the Mayor’s Office.

The summit, as well as the task force’s first public meeting earlier in the week, are among the events being highlighted in April – National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

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About 300 people attended the summit, including representatives of about 20 organizations that deal with child welfare, health and education issues. They set up booths, answered questions and handed out informational pamphlets.

The Children, Youth and Families Department used the summit to display its Heart Gallery of New Mexico, which features professional portraits of children currently available for adoption. The portraits are taken by photographers from around the state who donate their time.

In addition to the liaison position, Berry said the city was providing $60,000 to All Faiths to update its audio-video recording equipment for use in interviewing kids who may have been abused or assaulted. The interviews can be used as evidence in the prosecution of an offender.

The city is also committing another $100,000 that will be available in the next fiscal year to launch recommendations made by the task force.

Berry also acknowledged Gov. Susana Martinez’s reforms to CYFD, which were announced earlier this week. Among them are better communication and sharing of information between the agency and law enforcement, and placement of a permanent CYFD team at Albuquerque’s Family Advocacy Center, where victims of child abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault and other crimes can access support services.

Berry chose the summit to announce his selection for his Friday’s Heroes program, which usually highlights the good work of police officers, firefighters and other city employees. Berry instead honored Clay Schroff and his wife Michelle Schroff who have served as foster parents to more than 40 children over the past six years. The couple currently have 10 children in their home, including three biological children and three who they are in the process of adopting.

The Schroffs also operate the Aspen Project, which encourages people to provide more foster care and adoptions, as well as mentoring and counseling to children and youths.


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