New Options Available for Substance Abuse Affected Individuals in NW New Mexico

Four Corners Detox Recovery Center Now Available to Treat Patients


SANTA FE – The State of New Mexico Emergency Operations Center ESF6 Shelter Operations, in partnership with McKinley County, the City of Gallup, and Santa Fe Recovery, a nonprofit rehabilitation and long-term treatment facility based in Santa Fe, opened Four Corners Detox Recovery Center in December of 2020 to address the need for more addiction rehabilitation and recovery services in an area hard hit by COVID-19. 

At the start of COVID, Na Nizhoozhi Center Inc. (NCI), the only detox facility in McKinley County, closed its doors. In response, the State opened Substance Use Disorder housing, COVID housing, and a wellness hotel to provide respite for people experiencing homelessness in the community. 

The state also worked with NCI to reopen its doors and maintain staffing levels. 

“This is a great example of meeting the needs of the community under the COVID-19 crisis while at the same time building long-term options to serve the community for decades to come,” said ESF6 Director and CYFD Cabinet Secretary Brian Blalock. “From the National Guard to the State Fire Marshal to hardworking volunteers on the ground in McKinley County, we are grateful to all those who worked so hard toward these goals.” 

The State Human Services Department reached out to Santa Fe Recovery, an established rehab and detox facility headquartered in Santa Fe, to explore ways to support the urgent need for medically supervised detox and agreed to open as Four Corners Detox Recovery Center.

The county’s shuttered juvenile detention center was identified as a location, and the county supported the effort. 

“McKinley County is committed to serving our community and making sure our community members have the services they need. While the COVID-19 pandemic has hit McKinley County hard, our team has worked tirelessly to find sustainable solutions that benefit our community,” said McKinley County Manager Anthony Dimas. “We are proud to have worked with our State and City partners to assist Santa Fe Recovery with expanding to our community.”

"Santa Fe Recovery has a history of looking at how to best meet the needs of the community, ranging from innovative use of The Mountain Center to allowing mothers to bring their young children to treatment, all in the context of offering evidence-based care,” said Human Services Behavioral Health Director Dr. Neal Bowen. “We appreciate their ability to meet the specific needs of the larger Gallup community and offer rehabilitation and treatment options closer to home for many in need of services.” 

 The New Mexico National Guard assisted with removing eight tons of stored materials from the facility to make room for the new service provider. 

The city and county assisted with repairs and the State Fire Marshal’s Office worked with contractors to get the building up to current fire code. 

It took just eight weeks to make these improvements, then Four Corners Detox Recovery Center opened its doors and started treating patients. 

As of this week, more than 70 patients have received services at the facility since it opened in late December. 

Eventually the facility will provide long-term treatment onsite in addition to traditional rehab and detox services. 




Contact:  Cliff W. Gilmore, Public Information Officer

  New Mexico Children, Youth & Families Department

  505.231.6083 |

CYFD Fully Supports the New Mexico State Indian Child Welfare Act



Santa Fe, NM – New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department wholeheartedly endorses the passage of House Bill 209/Senate Bill 278, the New Mexico State Indian Child Welfare Act. This important legislation will greatly benefit the 23 sovereign tribal nations within the state of New Mexico.


The federal ICWA was passed in 1978 in response to the high number of Indian children who were being forcibly removed from their families and placed with non-Indian families by public and private agencies. ICWA provides the minimal standards under which American Indian/Alaskan Native families receive services from a state child welfare system.


Today, American Indian/Alaskan Native children are still four times more likely to be removed from their families; which often results in a disconnect from extended families, their tribal communities, and their cultural identity.


“A New Mexico state ICWA to help keep Indian children with Indian families has been a long time coming,” said CYFD Cabinet Secretary Brian Blalock, “and it is finally possible because the tribes have been in the lead telling government and community organizations what kind of law will work best for them.”


Keeping the most impacted children, families and communities at the center of this legislation has been of paramount importance, and CYFD has supported the expert work of the NM Tribal Indian Child Welfare Consortium, the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women, and Bold Future during this process.


New Mexico’s proposed ICWA law would clarify legal definitions of key terms including Indian child and tribe, as well as strengthen the legal definitions for active efforts, fictive kin, member, and relative, in ways respectful of the tribes’ culture and unique status as sovereign tribal nations.


Circumstances under which the parental rights of an Indian parent can be terminated will also be codified in a way that honors the traditions, cultures, and role of tribes in community and family. Processes for maintaining the cultural traditions and norms for the child once a child is placed for adoption or guardianship will also be clarified.


“The State Indian Child Welfare Act is an important step in ensuring Native children in the child welfare system can remain connected to their tribal communities and cultures. Having this legislation written by the tribes for the tribes emphasizes the importance of knowing the truly supporting our tribal communities,” said Donalyn Sarracino, CYFD Director of Tribal Affairs.


“The overarching goal of this policy is to provide stronger legal protections for native children, families and tribal communities. Thank you to all those involved in spearheading such an important piece of legislation that will deeply impact our tribal families and communities,” said Lynn Trujillo, Secretary of Indian Affairs Department.




Contact:  Cliff W. Gilmore, Public Information Officer

  New Mexico Children, Youth & Families Department

  505.231.6083 |

News Release (PDF)

CYFD Hires Director of Behavioral Health Division

Danielle Cossett, LCSW, CPC, Brings Decades of Experience to Department


SANTA FE – The New Mexico Children, Youth & Families Department is pleased to announce the hire of Danielle Cossett, LCSW, CPC, as its new Director of Behavioral Health. Cossett is a clinical social worker with more than 30 years of experience working with adults, youth and families in a variety of settings. 


“Over the past two years, CYFD has championed accessibility to mental health services throughout New Mexico,” said CYFD Cabinet Secretary Brian Blalock. “The number of Infant Mental Health physicians has increased by 50% and sites that provide comprehensive wraparound services has increased by more than 100%. Danielle is the right person to lead our Behavioral Health Division and continue building on that momentum to provide the best possible services and support for New Mexico’s children, youth, and families.” 


Cossett is a graduate of Smith College School for Social Work, a Nurtured Heart Approach® Advanced Trainer, and a Certified Parent Coach. She worked as the Clinical Director at New Mexico Solutions, a Community Mental Health Center in Albuquerque/Santa Fe, from 2005 to January 2021 building and supervising a strong clinical team. She takes a developmental, humanistic approach in the treatment of trauma, addiction, grief & loss, parenting, professional development and clinical supervision. 


In her 15-1/2 years with New Mexico Solutions, Cossett was able to commit to methodologies such as the Nurtured Heart Approach (NHA) and affect culture change within New Mexico Solutions. Cossett said, “It’s that Nurtured Heart Approach lens that I’d like to really support and bring to CYFD and leadership.”  


The Nurtured Heart Approach impacts all relationships in positive ways. Using the NHA Lens assists children in further developing their self-regulation, supports parents build strong relationships and provides tools for professionals in the field. Cossett was part of a consultant group that brought Nurtured Heart Approach training to CYFD’s field staff. 


Cossett is also president-elect on the National Association of Social Workers New Mexico Board. “Last spring, I felt that I wanted to do something bigger with more systemic impact. I’m now seeing the impact I can make both as CYFD’s Director of Behavioral Health and my position with the NASW-NM board are right where I need to be,” Cossett said. 


Human Services Department Behavioral Health Director Dr. Neal Bowen said, “I look forward to working closely with Danielle as CYFD and HSD continue to respond to the specific needs of New Mexican children and families. Meeting families where they are and responding to their specific needs are key to rebuilding the state’s behavioral health systems.” 


CYFD’s Behavioral Health Division is responsible for a number of directives stemming from the state’s Kevin S. Settlement, building a trauma-responsive department through legislative, policy and procedural approaches. 

Cossett fills the role vacated by Bryce Pittenger, LPCC, who moved on to serve the people of New Mexico as CEO of the state’s Behavioral Health Collaborative overseeing behavioral health efforts for 15 state agencies and the Governor’s office. 


“Danielle has years of experience working in children’s behavioral health in New Mexico. Her collaboration and keen clinical skills are just what our system of care needs,” Pittenger said. “She has honed her ability to understand and respond to children who have experienced trauma, and through her leadership, children’s behavioral health will meet the goal of delivering and coordinating trauma-responsive services.” 




Contact:   Charlie Moore-Pabst, Deputy Public Information Officer

    New Mexico Children, Youth & Families Department

   505.470.3248 |

News Release (PDF)

Reach NM Text-based Reporting Service Available to all NM Youth


SANTA FE – New Mexico Children, Youth & Families Department launched ReachNM, a new program that enables youth to contact the department’s Statewide Central Intake workers by texting 505-591-9444 to seek support and resources or report suspected abuse or neglect.

New Mexico is the first state to create a system where reports of child abuse and neglect may be taken completely by text message.

ReachNM makes specially trained personnel available to answer questions from youth and connect them with the support they need 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The average child now has a cell phone by age 11 and texting is their most comfortable form of communication, according to Arizona State University research.

“We know that children are the experts in their own lives and being able to communicate with a young person in a way they’re most comfortable is key to assessing a child’s needs,” said CYFD Secretary Brian Blalock. “Reach NM allows us connect at a one-on-one level to offer support and resources in a way that is natural to our kids.”

Youth who send text messages to Reach NM are connected directly with an advocate who asks some initial assessment questions including what is going on and how the youth is feeling at the moment they reach out to the department.

The worker then connects the child with appropriate resources in their community.

If suspected abuse or neglect is disclosed, the text engagement worker will complete an official Statewide Central Intake report so investigators can respond appropriately based on the severity of the situation the same if a notification as received through the department’s #SAFE/855-333-SAFE telephone numbers.

"A member of my senior staff received a text message from a young person who was in distress in the middle of the night,” said Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham. “My staff was able to connect that child to the help they needed, and that led to the idea of a text-based reporting and support system available to young people at any time, day or night. This is an important tool to help empower our young people to help themselves and their families. Not only are youth more comfortable disclosing abuse and neglect via a text message than a phone call or face-to-face meeting, similar programs have reported youth also feel better about themselves when they can ask for help."

CYFD worked with vendor iCarol to stand the Reach NM texting system which allows people to send a Short Message Service (SMS) or text message.

Engagement experts can also use the system to connect those in need with the wide range of support and services available, such as food banks or assistance with transportation to and from medical appointment.

While people who report through Reach NM can remain anonymous, workers can track calls from the same person over time, potentially uncovering other ways the Department might assist them or their family.

“If you are a youth who needs any kind of help, we can connect you to resources that work for you,” Secretary Blalock said. ‘We want to authentically engage kids where they are and say to that young person ‘You were able to help yourself or your family by standing up and asking for help.’ It’s not easy to ask for help, so by providing comfortable ways to ask for assistance we can, over time, help destigmatize the use of important community supports like food banks and behavioral health.”


Contact:   Charlie Moore-Pabst, Deputy Public Information Officer

    New Mexico Children, Youth & Families Department

   505.470.3248 |

News Release PDF

Printable informational flyer PDF for public distribution

Introducing Reach NM: A new way for youth to reach CYFD


The New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department has launched a new service, REACH NM, providing text-based reporting and engagement. REACH NM allows young people to connect directly with CYFD workers for resources, help, and reporting potential abuse or neglect. The service is free to any New Mexican with a text-message enabled cell phone.REACH NM is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You can text with an expert for help finding resources in your community, reach out for assistance with basic needs for yourself or others, report concerns of abuse and neglect in your home, or report suspected abuse or neglect that may be occurring in someone else's home or in the community.Help is a text away. Text REACH NM any time at 505-591-9444

Download a printable PDF

Las agencias estatales colaboran para localizar e involucrar a los estudiantes



9 de octubre de 2020


Algunos estudiantes no están en las listas de la escuela, otros están crónicamente ausentes


SANTA FE -- Tres agencias estatales están uniendo fuerzas con los distritos escolares locales y las escuelas chárter para localizar a los estudiantes que han abandonado las listas escolares o que están crónicamente ausentes de las clases remotas.


El Departamento de Educación Pública se está asociando con los departamentos de Niños, Jóvenes y Familias y Asuntos Indígenas para identificar, localizar, contactar e intervenir para que los estudiantes regresen a la escuela para garantizar su seguridad y brindarles oportunidades de aprendizaje y bienestar.


“Este ha sido un año increíblemente difícil para todos nosotros, sin duda alguna”, dijo la gobernadora Michelle Lujan Grisham. “Lo único que podría dificultar las cosas es un revés educativo para un niño, o un riesgo para su seguridad o bienestar, que podría haberse evitado. El estado de Nuevo México está comprometido, ante todo, con el bienestar de sus niños”.


“La asistencia a la escuela no es opcional, incluso en medio de una pandemia mundial”, dijo el secretario del PED, Ryan Stewart. "Toda la maquinaria del gobierno estatal está trabajando para garantizar que los niños de Nuevo México estén inscritos, comprometidos y aprendiendo".


Los datos de asistencia escolar, que identifican a los estudiantes que están crónicamente ausentes, no se informan al PED hasta el día 40 del año académico, que es la próxima semana. Pero los informes anecdóticos de algunos distritos sugieren un alto ausentismo entre los alumnos en clases remotas.


Los distritos y las escuelas chárter determinan por sí mismos qué constituye la asistencia en el modo de aprendizaje remoto, ya sea estar presente para una lección en línea, registrarse por correo electrónico o algún otro método.


“Sabemos que muchos distritos y escuelas chárter han implementado sistemas para identificar y apoyar a los estudiantes que no participan, pero todavía hay demasiados huecos y necesidades”, dijo Stewart. “Estamos poniendo todos los recursos a nuestra disposición para conectar a los estudiantes con un Internet adecuado y brindarles a los estudiantes que no están comprometidos con entrenamiento académico o apoyo social y emocional. Mientras seguimos esperando la llegada de recursos federales adicionales para las escuelas, estamos preparados para apoyar a nuestros estudiantes con la totalidad de recursos estatales disponibles”, dijo.

La inscripción también es una preocupación. Anteriormente, el departamento no tenía forma de contar o rastrear a los estudiantes que simplemente son eliminados de la lista de una escuela después de 10 días consecutivos de ausencia.

"Estos son los estudiantes que más nos preocupan porque no tenemos información sobre su aprendizaje o, lo que es más importante, sobre su bienestar durante la pandemia", dijo Stewart. "Estamos preparando un nuevo proceso paralelo ahora que recopilará esos datos, junto con nuevas asociaciones con CYFD e IAD para movilizarse rápidamente para apoyar a estos estudiantes”, dijo Stewart.

“El Departamento de Asuntos Indígenas está trabajando en colaboración con nuestras agencias hermanas para asegurar que las comunidades tribales tengan acceso a los recursos que necesitan para que los niños estén conectados y comprometidos”, dijo la secretaria Lynn Trujillo. “Nuestro departamento trabajará con los líderes tribales y los directores de educación tribal para identificar, localizar y brindar apoyo para que los estudiantes regresen a la escuela y asistencia a sus familias”.

Una vez que las agencias hayan identificado a los estudiantes desaparecidos, el PED y el CYFD se comunicarán con las familias para determinar si sus estudiantes están inscritos en una escuela privada, si están siendo educados en el hogar o necesitan una intervención para regresarlos al salón de clases. Más de 13,000 estudiantes están recibiendo educación en casa este otoño, alrededor de 5,000 más que el año pasado.

CYFD también responde a los informes telefónicos de negligencia educativa. Cuando el proceso de selección de la agencia determina que un caso no cumple con el umbral de abuso o negligencia, se remite a Family Resource Connection Lite, un equipo de trabajadores que se comunica con las familias para averiguar qué servicios y apoyos se necesita para que sus hijos vayan a la escuela. Hasta la fecha, este programa se ha conectado con aproximadamente 200 familias. Los trabajadores de campo se han puesto en contacto con otras 71 familias con relaciones existentes con el departamento para obtener apoyo.


Este enfoque no punitivo se centra en el bienestar del niño y conecta a las familias con los recursos y las escuelas, dijo el secretario Brian Blalock.


“La pandemia ha obligado a miles de familias y educadores de Nuevo México a adaptarse rápidamente a las condiciones cambiantes, y estamos respondiendo en muchos niveles para ayudar a apoyar a las familias durante este tiempo incierto y, con frecuencia, frustrante”, dijo Blalock. "Animamos a cualquier persona que necesite ayuda para que sus hijos se conecten con su educación a que llamen a nuestra Admisión Central Estatal al 855-333-SAFE o #SAFE desde un teléfono celular o comuníquese directamente con la escuela de su hijo para obtener ayuda".

CYFD también está aprovechando las relaciones duraderas con los distritos escolares y las agencias de aplicación de la ley en todo el estado, por ejemplo, enlaces asignados escuelas específicas para darles un único punto de contacto para informar inquietudes de absentismo escolar o negligencia educativa.

Los maestros, junto con los médicos, la policía, los trabajadores sociales y otros profesionales que están en contacto con los niños, están obligados por ley a informar sobre la sospecha de abuso infantil, y cuando las escuelas cerraron por primera vez para el aprendizaje en persona en la primavera, CYFD experimentó un descenso en esos informes. Sin embargo, el volumen de informes ha vuelto a la normalidad a partir de junio.

La División de Desarrollo de la Fuerza Laboral de CYFD ha creado un video instructivo para ayudar a los educadores y trabajadores sociales a identificar posibles signos de abuso o negligencia a través de un entorno de aprendizaje virtual.





Judy Robinson

(505) 231-6889

Charlie Moore-Pabst

(505) 470-3248


Keegan King

(505) 552-2090



State agencies collaborate to locate, engage students



Some students are not on school rosters, others are chronically absent

SANTA FE -- Three state agencies are joining forces with local school districts and charter schools to track down students who have dropped off school rosters or who are chronically absent from remote classes.

The Public Education Department is partnering with the Children, Youth and Families and Indian Affairs departments to identify, locate, contact and intervene to get students back in school to ensure their safety and to provide for their continued learning opportunities and well-being.

“This has been an impossibly difficult year for all of us, no doubt about it,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said. “The only thing that could make it tougher is an educational setback for a child, or a risk to their safety or well-being, that could’ve been avoided. The state of New Mexico is committed, first and foremost, to the welfare of its children.”

“School attendance is not optional, even amid a global pandemic,” PED Secretary Ryan Stewart said. “The whole machinery of state government is working to ensure that New Mexico children are enrolled, engaged and learning.”

School attendance data, which identify students who are chronically absent, are not reported to PED until the 40th day of the academic year, which is next week. But anecdotal reports from some districts suggest high absenteeism among remote learners.

Districts and charter schools determine for themselves what constitutes attendance in the remote learning mode -- whether it is being present for an online lesson, checking in by email or some other method.

“We know many districts and charters have put systems in place to identify and support disengaged students, but there are still far too many gaps and needs,” Stewart said. “We are putting all resources at our disposal toward connecting students with adequate internet and providing disengaged students with academic coaching or social and emotional supports. While we continue to hope that additional federal resources for schools will be forthcoming, we’re prepared to support our students with the full range of state resources available,” he said.

Enrollment is also a concern. The department previously had no way to count or track students who are simply dropped from a school’s roster after 10 consecutive days of absence.

"These are the students we're most concerned about because we don’t have information on their learning or, more importantly, on their well-being during the pandemic,” Stewart said. “We're standing up a new, parallel reporting process now that will collect that data, along with new partnerships with CYFD and IAD to quickly mobilize to support these students,” Stewart said.

“The Indian Affairs Department is working in collaboration with our sister agencies to ensure that tribal communities have access to the resources they need to get children connected and engaged,” Secretary Lynn Trujillo said. “Our department will work with tribal leaders and tribal education directors to identify, locate and provide support to get students back in school as well as assistance to their families.”   

Once the agencies have identified the missing students, the PED and CYFD will contact families to determine if their students are enrolled in private school, being home-schooled or need an intervention to return them to the classroom. More than 13,000 students are being home-schooled this fall, about 5,000 more than last year.

CYFD also responds to phoned-in reports of educational neglect. When the agency’s screening process determines a case does not meet the threshold for abuse or neglect, it is referred to

Family Resource Connection Lite, a team of workers who reach out to families to find out what services and supports they need to get their children to school. To date, this program has connected with approximately 200 families. An additional 71 families with existing relationships with the department have been contacted by their field workers for support.

This non-punitive approach focuses on child well-being and connects families with resources and schools, Secretary Brian Blalock said.

“The pandemic has forced thousands of New Mexico families and educators to adjust to changing conditions quickly, and we’re responding on many levels to help support families during this uncertain and often frustrating time,” Blalock said. “We encourage anyone in need of assistance getting their children connected to their schooling to call our Statewide Central Intake at 855-333-SAFE or #SAFE from a cell phone or reach out directly to your child’s school for assistance.”

CYFD is also capitalizing on longstanding relationships with school districts and law enforcement agencies across the state -- for example, by assigning liaisons to specific schools to give them a single point of contact to report concerns of truancy or educational neglect.

Teachers -- along with doctors, police, social workers and other professionals who come in contact with children -- are required by law to report suspected child abuse, and when schools first closed to in-person learning in the spring, CYFD saw a dip in those reports. However, the volume of reports has since returned to normal, beginning in June.

CYFD’s Workforce Development Division has created an instructional video to help educators and social workers identify potential signs of abuse or neglect through a virtual learning environment.





Judy Robinson, NMPED

(505) 231-6889

Charlie Moore-Pabst, CYFD

(505) 470-3248


Keegan King, IAD

(505) 552-2090




CYFD Implements Naloxone in Combating Opioid Overdose



SANTA FE – The New Mexico Children, Youth & Families Department (CYFD) in participation with New Mexico Human Services Department’s (NMHSD) Office of Substance Abuse Prevention implemented measures for field staff including Juvenile Probation Officers, Transition Coordinators, Community Behavioral Health Therapists, and for certain staff members working in Juvenile Justice Facilities to be trained on carrying and administering Narcan, a nasal spray utilized to counteract life-threatening effects of an opioid overdose.


Drug overdose continues to be the leading cause of adult injury death in the United States according to the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) and Center of Disease Control and Prevention.  The majority of overdose deaths involve prescription opioid medications. The number of overdose deaths involving opioids have nearly quadrupled since 1999, leading public health officials to declare a nationwide opioid overdose epidemic. Due to factors surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, overdoses are again on the rise. A NMDOH survey found 85 percent of adults in the state recognize prescription opioid abuse to be an extremely serious public health problem in our state, with nearly two-thirds of those surveyed reporting they know someone who is or has been addicted to opioids.

“This is an important tool now available to our Juvenile Justice and other field staff,” said CYFD Secretary Brian Blalock. “Narcan has saved thousands of lives and just like defibrillators placed widely in public spaces, Narcan should be carried by anybody who takes opiates or has a loved one who takes these prescription medications so they can be taken in the safest way possible.”

Common Opioid Medications

  • Oxycodone (PERCOCET®, OXYCONTIN®, ROXICET®, etc.)
  • Hydrocodone (VICODIN®, NORCO®, LORTAB®, etc.)
  • Hydromorphone (DILAUDID®, EXALGO®, etc.)
  • Codeine (TYLENOL #3, Cough syrups, etc.)
  • Morphine (MS CONTIN®, KADIAN®, AVINZA®, etc.)
  • Oxymorphone (OPANA®, OPANA® ER)
  • Fentanyl (DURAGESIC®)
  • Methadone (METHADOSE®)
  • Buprenorphine (SUBOXONE®, BUTRANS®, SUBUTEX®, ZUBSOLV®, etc.)

Common Side Effects from Opioids

  • Tolerance - needing more medication to get pain relief
  • Physical dependence - withdrawal symptoms when the medication is stopped
  • Increased sensitivity to pain
  • Depression
  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • Sleepiness
  • Itching and poor wound healing
  • Hormone imbalances

Not all opioids are prescription pain relievers. Heroin is also an opioid drug made from morphine and has the same effect on the brain and body as opioid medications used to treat pain. Heroin use is associated with many health risks, including overdose and death. It is usually inhaled or injected and rapidly enters the brain. Once in the brain, heroin is converted back into morphine.

Narcan (NALOXONE HCI) Nasal Spray is a FDA approved treatment of known or suspected opioid overdose. Narcan was specifically developed for first responders, as well as family, friends, and caregivers to be able to administer the life-saving drug without the use of a needle or syringe. Emergency Medical Care will still need to be provided and given to any individual known or suspected of overdose or who have received a dose of naloxone.

Naloxone may cause opioid withdrawal symptoms such as: nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, chills, sweating, anxiety, and combative/disorientation. People who take opioids chronically are more likely to experience these effects. Opioid overdose complications, such as brain damage or death from lack of oxygen, are more alarming than potential side effects from naloxone administration. If naloxone is given to a person who has not taken opioids, it will not have any effect on that person.

Juvenile Justice Facilities also provide Hepatitis prevention and Basic First Aid training to all clients. Safe Injection Training is also provided for staff who have clients with prior history of needle injection with either Heroin or Methamphetamine prior to a supervised release. Upon release, clients receive an information packet developed by NMDOH with information pertaining to where Narcan and needle exchange sites can be found throughout the state as well as Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) resources. In addition, they receive a pocket size take-away with Narcan and Basic First Aid for use and directions in the event they forget their training or encounter a stressful situation. 

New Mexico has been distributing naloxone to people without a medical background since 2001. State statute allows for non-medical, laypersons to carry and use naloxone (Narcan Nasal Spray) in the event of a suspected opioid overdose. This law applies to state employees when carrying out the duties of their work, as well as when they are “off duty” as lay community members. Any person in the state of New Mexico who responds to a suspected opioid overdose using naloxone is exempt from civil, criminal, and professional liability. Trainings emphasize germane statutes.

CYFD’s Narcan training was led by Bernie Lieving. Mr. Lieving is a public health social worker currently working as a consultant and Statewide Overdose Prevention Education Coordinator on New Mexico’s various federal grants within the Behavioral Health Services Division, Office of Substance Abuse Prevention.  His areas of professional experience include health and social services program development, grant writing, legislative advocacy, social work education, harm reduction, overdose prevention and response education, prisoner reentry, community-based capacity building, and the provision of direct services to underserved populations. Bernie is the principal of The Lieving Group, LLC.

If you or a loved one take any type of Opioid or medications mentioned above, you’re strongly encouraged to be trained in the use of Narcan and carry it with you. Anyone can purchase Narcan Nasal Spray directly from a pharmacist under a statewide standing order without a doctor’s prescription. All major chains (such as CVS, Walgreens, and RiteAid) stock Narcan Nasal Spray. You can also reach a consultant Pharmacist for PHD through NMDOH, call 1-800-254-4689 (during normal business hours).  Instructions for use, as well as other resources and information including online purchasing are also available on the website.

CYFD empathizes and knows the strain and devastation that addictions and overdose put on families and communities statewide. CYFD is committed to continuing to support policies and programs that prevent drug overdose and is grateful for the partnerships with NMDOH and NMHSD.  CYFD joins New Mexico State Police, New Mexico Corrections Department, and the New Mexico Aging and Long-Term Services Department in providing training and deploying naloxone to workers.

If you are concerned about someone’s substance use (drugs and/or alcohol), or their mental wellbeing you can always reach a counselor at the New Mexico Crisis and Access Line. Call toll free anytime 1-855-NMCRISIS (662-7474). You can also visit NMDOH’s website for additional information and resources related to Naloxone and Opioid Overdose.




Contact: Charlie Moore-Pabst, Acting Public Information Officer


News Release: PDF | Español (coming soon)


Zoom link & Agenda for Child Protective Services Task Force Public Meeting August 3

Posted 7/24/2020



Public Meeting

Monday, August 3, @6:00 PM - 8:00 PM


  1. Welcome- Terry Locke, CYFD Deputy Cabinet Secretary
  2. Presentation of Task Force Structure- Annamarie Luna, Acting Director PS
  3. Workgroup Reports:
    1. Placement Stability/Recruitment and Retention for Vulnerable populations – Reed Connell, Contractor
    2. Policy and Procedure- Roslynn Gallegos, Workgroup Co-chair and Karen Whitlock, Workgroup Secretary
    3. Reunification- Veronica Krupnick, Workgroup Co-chair
  4. Public Comment Format- Charlie Moore-Pabst, Acting Public Information Officer
  5. Public Comment- Valerie Sandoval and Aubrey Lanham, Coordinators
  6. Conclusion of Public Comment at 8pm – Charlie Moore-Pabst, Acting PIO

Zoom webinar link

You are invited to a Zoom webinar.

When: Aug 3, 2020 06:00 PM Mountain Time (US and Canada)

Topic: HJM-10 Taskforce Public Meeting

Please click the link below to join the webinar:

Or iPhone one-tap : 

    US: +13462487799,,92831582900#  or +16699009128,,92831582900# 

Or Telephone:

    Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):

        US: +1 346 248 7799  or +1 669 900 9128  or +1 253 215 8782  or +1 312 626 6799  or +1 646 558 8656  or +1 301 715 8592 

Webinar ID: 928 3158 2900

    International numbers available:

Public Comment Process

Members of the public are welcome to provide public comment at this meeting. To allow as many people to speak as possible, comments will be limited to 2 minutes and this meeting will have a dedicated time for public comment, to be determined by the larger agenda. You must sign up to speak by emailing prior to the start of the meeting, 6 PM on 8/3/20, with your name, e-mail address, and the general subject of your comment. Note: Please sign in to the meeting using the same name you used to sign up. Names that do not match will not be unmuted for public comment. Anonymous comments or questions will not be included.

Interested individuals may submit public comments in writing to, or by regular mail at Attn: Child Protective Services Task Force, CYFD, P.O. Drawer 5160, Santa Fe, NM 87502. Written comments will be distributed to the Task Force and CYFD Secretary at the start of the meeting.

Any person with a disability who is in need of a Spanish language translator, reader, amplifier, qualified American Sign Language interpreter, or auxiliary aid or service to attend or participate in the meeting should contact (505) 827-7602 or email at least two (2) days prior to the hearing.



CYFD Launches Fostering Connections, Extending Foster Care For Young Adults



SANTA FE — The New Mexico Children, Youth & Families Department on Wednesday launched the state’s first Extended Foster Care program, Fostering Connections, which extends the age of support and services available to young adults involved with CYFD from the age of 18 to 21.  Some of the extended supports available to young adults include guaranteed housing, guaranteed connection to community based behavioral health supports, job assistance, food access, and money for college.

Fostering Connections was first passed in the 2019 legislative Session with clean up legislation in the 2020 Session.  It opts in to the increased supports and funding made possible by a 2008 federal law by the same name.  These valuable services were made possible by the leadership of Governor Michelle Lujan-Grisham, the bi-partisan sponsorship of Senator Michael Padilla and Senator Candace Gould, and many, many young people who spoke in support of the legislation.  Both bills passed unanimously in the New Mexico House and Senate.

“Becoming an adult is one of the most difficult things a young person can go through, and it’s so much harder for young people who have been in foster care or in other out-of-home placements,” said CYFD Cabinet Secretary Brian Blalock. “We know that these young people’s peers are remaining home and receiving financial and other types of support from their parents well into their 20’s. Children who have been in out-of-home placements deserve ongoing supports as they age into adulthood as well.”

The first year of implementation of Fostering Connections will focus on youth who turn 18 in 2021, extend to 19 in 2022, and eventually cover young adults up to the age of 21 in 2023. The graduated introduction will allow for continuous quality improvement of the services provided and how those services are offered or administered.

“Some of our most vulnerable children in New Mexico are those that age out of foster care at age 18,” said Senator Michael Padilla. “As a former foster child myself, I was proud to sponsor the legislation that provides extended foster care to the age of 21, which will provide critical support to these now young adults.”

The law allows for voluntary participation, so no young adult is required to receive services. Eligible youth are also allowed to exit and re-enter receiving services anytime through their eligibility period.




Charlie Moore-Pabst, CYFD Acting Public Information Officer


News release: PDF


CYFD Updates Nondiscrimination Policy to Better Serve All Youth



SANTA FE — The New Mexico Children, Youth & Families Department announced a new directive to help better support LGBTQIA+ youth in care. The nondiscrimination policy is the most inclusive and robust the Department has followed to date.

“We know LGBTQIA+ youth are overrepresented in the child welfare system, and unfortunately are still shunned by family members at an alarming rate just because of sexual orientation or other factors,” Secretary Brian Blalock said. “As an agency, we want to send the clear message that we support all of our youth. We are here with open arms.”

The directive clarifies that CYFD will not discriminate against any child or youth involved with any aspect the system on the basis of race; creed, religion; sex or gender; gender identity; gender expression; sexual orientation; marital status or partnership; familial or parental status; pregnancy and breastfeeding or nursing; disability; genetic information; intersex traits; citizenship or immigration status; national origin; tribal affiliation; ancestry; language; political affiliation; military or veteran status; medical condition, including HIV/AIDS; status as a survivor of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking; and housing status, including homelessness; or any other non-merit factor.

The official, signed directive is available here: Directive in English | En Español

The directive, effective June 29, includes CYFD as well as contracted services and programs. All new and current employees will receive training on nondiscrimination, professionalism, and boundaries.

The directive was written with input from community stakeholders, including Lambda Legal, NMCAN, True Colors United, Family Equality, and Equality New Mexico.

The new policy crosses all CYFD divisions and bureaus, including Protective Services, Juvenile Justice Services, and Behavioral Health Division.




Charlie Moore-Pabst, CYFD Acting Public Information Officer


News release: PDF | Español

Early Childhood Education and Care Department Announces Advisory Council



SANTA FE — Today, the Early Childhood Education and Care Department (ECECD) announced the formation of its Advisory Council. 

“When Gov. Lujan Grisham and the Legislature created ECECD last year, they wisely chose to enlist the help of New Mexicans from communities across the state,” said ECECD Secretary Elizabeth Groginsky. “As we work to build a department that responds quickly and effectively to the needs of children and families, these diverse voices and perspectives will be incredibly valuable.”

“Parents, early childhood professionals, and other community stakeholders spent years advocating for the creation of a state agency dedicated to early childhood. Now, many of those same voices will help shape how ECECD’s success is measured and the long-term sustainability of the agency  - and we’re thankful for their service,” said Mariana Padilla, Director of the Children’s Cabinet.


The Advisory Council fulfills a requirement established in SB 22, the 2019 legislation that created the Early Childhood Education and Care Department. Members were chosen from a pool of over 300 applicants by an independent panel composed of participants from New Mexico’s Public Education Department (PED), Higher Education Department (HED), and ECECD. In making its selections, the panel followed a rubric of applicant requirements outlined in SB 22, prioritizing members who reflect geographic, cultural, linguistic, gender, ethnic, and racial diversity and experience in a range of early childhood and higher education settings. 

Members of the Council include: 

  1. Alma Martell / Organizer, OLE / Albuquerque
  2. Amber Cadena / Educator, Chins / Alamogordo
  3. Amber Wallin / Deputy Director, NM Voices for Children / Albuquerque
  4. Amelia Black / ECE Faculty, Dine College / Crownpoint
  5. Anita Rios / Facilitator, Community Partnership for Children / Albuquerque
  6. Anna Marie Garcia / Vice President of Early Childhood Education, LANL Foundation / Espanola
  7. Barbara Tedrow / Owner, Smiling Faces Child Care Center / Farmington   
  8. Candace Keams Benally / Principal and PreK Administrator, Central Schools / Shiprock
  9. Catron Allred / Director, Central NM Community College / Albuquerque
  10. Coda Omness / Department Chair CTE, ENMU-Ruidoso / Ruidoso
  11. Crystal Tapia / Executive Director and Owner, Noah’s Ark Children’s Academy & Early Childhood Solutions / Albuquerque
  12. Dana Bell / Interim Director, Cradle to Career Policy Institute UNM / Albuquerque
  13. Diana Hammond / Pre-K Coordinator and Special Education Teacher, Ruidoso Municipal Schools / Ruidoso
  14. Doris Salazar / Lead Pre-K Teacher, Desert Montessori / Santa Fe
  15. Elsa Begueria / Superintendent, Lake Arthur Municipal Schools / Lake Arthur
  16. Elizabeth Beers / Director of Community-Based Programs, Presbyterian Healthcare Services, Socorro General Hospital / Socorro
  17. Elizabeth Torrison / Early Intervention Executive Director, NAPPR Inc. / Albuquerque
  18. Elsa Rojas / Lead Nursery Teacher, Partnership for Community Action / Albuquerque
  19. Francine Cachucha / Program Director, Jicarilla Child & Family Education Center / Dulce
  20. Franz Joachim / General Manager & CEO, New Mexico PBS and KNME-TV / Albuquerque
  21. Gil Vigil / Executive Director, Eight Northern Indian Pueblos Council / Tesuque Pueblo
  22. Hope Morales / Executive Director, Teach Plus / Roswell
  23. Dr. Janis Gonzales / Maternal Child Health Director, NM Department of Health
  24. Joan Baker / Executive Director, BEFORE / Albuquerque
  25. Julie Lucero / Executive Director of Special Education, Santa Fe Public Schools / Santa Fe
  26. Kelly Dineyazhe Hunter / Assistant Professor, Navajo Technical University / Crownpoint
  27. Lori Martinez / Executive Director, Ngage New Mexico / Las Cruces
  28. Maria Elena Salazar / Lecturer III, UNM Early Childhood Education Degree Programs / Albuquerque
  29. Mark Sparenberg / IT and QA Coordinator, Child & Family Services Inc. of Lea County / Hobbs
  30. Melanie Skinner / Principal and NMPreK Coordinator, Brown Early Childhood Center / Portales   
  31. Michael Armendariz / Director, Tresco Children Services / Las Cruces 
  32. Noemi Langley / Center Coordinator and Family Advocate, Child & Family Services Inc. of Lea County / Hobbs
  33. Nora Hernandez Cordova / Equal Justice Paralegal Fellow, New Mexico Immigrant Law Center / Albuquerque
  34. Ruth Ann Ortiz / Board of Directors President, New Mexico Association for Infant Mental Health / Las Cruces
  35. Sally Green / Preschool Supervisor, Roswell Independent School District / Roswell 
  36. Taylor J. Etchemendy / UNM Taos Mentor Network Coordinator and Director of INSPIRE Bilingual Early Learning Center / Taos
  37. Terry Anderson / Executive Director and Project Coordinator, Community Partnership for Children / Silver City
  38. Trisha Moquino / Founding Executive Director and Guide, Keres Children’s Learning Center / Cochiti Pueblo
  39. Representative Rebecca Dow / Truth or Consequences
  40. Kelly Klundt, Legislative Finance Committee
  41. Secretary Debbie Romero, Department of Finance and Administration (Meribeth Densmore, Representative)

The Council will also include two professional facilitators, and will meet four times this year before submitting a series of recommendations to the Governor and the Legislature.


Matt Bieber
Director of Communications
Early Childhood Education and Care Department
(505) 629-9675

Lujan Grisham administration releases additional summer resources for families



Multi-agency state effort addresses access to food, child care, cultural learning opportunities

SANTA FE — Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Friday announced additional resources for New Mexico families interested in summer youth programming. Through a collaboration between the Department of Cultural Affairs, Public Education Department, Early Childhood Education and Care Department, and Children, Youth & Families Department, the state has assembled a comprehensive array of supports for families – including a directory of available programs, online and print resources, child care resources and other materials. 

These resources are available on, along with a full list of COVID-19 Safe Practices for in-person programs.

“Children have always been a top priority of this administration. They must be able to play and learn and eat during the summer, even during the current health crisis. Working together, these state agencies are making sure that happens and happens safely,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said. 

CYFD will support food deliveries to communities in need in New Mexico, including tribes and pueblos, throughout the summer. To date, CYFD has led the coordination and distribution of more than 1 million pounds of food and 5.4 million meals throughout the state. 

CYFD will also continue to prioritize outreach and support to children and youth in custody throughout the summer. Staff are working to connect families and foster parents to summer recreational and educational activities for children and families, many offered through the Early Childhood Education and Care Department and the Department of Cultural Affairs, including options for child care in addition to fun activities, books, arts and crafts and science experiments that can be done at home. For older youth and young adults, CYFD will continue to help with access to housing, jobs, apprenticeships, and preparation for fall academic activities.  Increased video and telephonic “visits” with children in foster care and young people previously in CYFD custody who are now living independently will address any emergent needs through the summer months.  

“One thing we’ve seen during this incredibly difficult time has been our staff’s desire to connect more with families and families’ reciprocal engagement as that’s happened,” CYFD Secretary Brian Blalock said. “We’re seeing children and young people trusting more than ever that CYFD is here for them, and that’s helping increase access to supports and helping them thrive. These more frequent and meaningful connections are something we’re looking to continue doing for the long term.” 

CYFD also continues to support telehealth services throughout the summer. People who have benefited from the convenience of increased behavioral health access at home and through the New Mexico Crisis and Access Line and its companion app, NMConnect, will be pleased to know telehealth services are here to stay.

The Early Childhood Education and Care Department will continue to assist families in accessing child care for children 6 weeks to 12 years of age in centers and homes. Families who need care can call New Mexico Kids (1-800-691-9067). ECECD is also working to make state government programming available to child care centers – including DCA’s “bookmobile” program. 

“Supporting families during this public health emergency means striking a balance: providing opportunities for children to learn, grow, and develop, while preventing the spread of the virus.” said Early Childhood Education and Care Secretary Elizabeth Groginsky. “These resources do just that.” 

The New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs is dedicated to continuing to provide educational, enriching programming to the children of New Mexico and their families throughout the summer. All DCA’s annual Summer Youth Programs will continue in a virtual environment. Exciting events and programs, including the first statewide summer reading program, will be available online. New Mexico’s museums, historic sites, and cultural institutions are creating fun, educational activity kits that will be distributed to families via programs throughout the state. Families can take advantage of the weekly Friday night concert series, Our Fair New Mexico, and a variety of virtual exhibit tours, fun DIY activities, and engaging video content can be found on Visit Virtually. Explore all of DCA’s resources on Check back often as content is always being added.

“The incredible educators and instructional staff at all of DCA’s divisions have been working hard to bring our state’s rich culture into the homes of all New Mexicans this summer,” said Cultural Affairs Secretary Debra Garcia y Griego, “We are committed to providing hands-on activities and virtual experience to help New Mexico families and children throughout the summer.” 

The Public Education Department determined that it would not be possible to meet the statutory requirements of K-5 Plus for summer 2020.  However, Extended Learning Time Programs may still be possible in August while adhering to public health requirements and best practices. 

The PED encourages school districts to run locally funded, remote, or virtual summer school opportunities. The Summer School 2020 Guidance document published by PED on May 21st offers districts and school leaders resources and considerations based on what has been learned in the shift to remote learning and the research behind summer learning. Recent evidence suggests that expanding summer learning beyond remediation to provide students with rigorous opportunities to preview and practice knowledge and skills aligned to upcoming grade-level standards is effective at bolstering student achievement.  Likewise, providing social and emotional learning supports for students yields benefits in more traditional school contexts. Families are encouraged to check in with their local schools to learn about remote summer program opportunities in their area. 

The PED offers the following resources to families in support of social and emotional well-being:

In addition, Grab and Go meal sites for children will continue operating throughout the summer – and educational, cultural and social emotional resources will be available for families at these sites. A site list is available here.


Matt Bieber
Director of Communications
Early Childhood Education and Care Department
(505) 629-9675

ECECD Holds First Transition Committee Meeting in Partnership with The Hunt Institute



Lt. Governor, Cabinet Secretaries, Legislators, and Education Leaders Discuss Opportunities
to Create a More Aligned, Coherent, and Equitable Early Childhood System in New Mexico

SANTA FE — Yesterday, the Early Childhood Education and Care Department’s Transition Committee hosted the first of four meetings. The three-hour gathering, coordinated by The Hunt Institute and conducted via Zoom, addressed challenges and opportunities facing ECECD as it prepares for its July 1st launch. In particular, the Committee focused on ways to ensure better coordination across the state’s prenatal-to-five programs - and to involve local and tribal communities more fully in the development and implementation of programs and services across the state.

“I am grateful for the constructive spirit of collaboration we witnessed today to move New Mexico forward on an issue of critical importance to our future. With the leadership of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, Secretary Elizabeth Groginsky, and so many within State government and in the private sector, we are demonstrating again that New Mexico may lead the way in our nation for better health and education services for our youngest children and their families. This new agency will enable us to do the very best we can for children across our state. It is gratifying for me to see an idea I first proposed in the Senate years ago become reality, and advance,” Lt. Governor Howie Morales said.

ECECD Secretary Groginsky added, “Last year, New Mexico took an extraordinary step forward. Thanks to the leadership of Gov. Lujan Grisham, Sen. Michael Padilla, and Rep. Linda Trujillo - along with so many others inside and outside of government - our state created one of the nation’s only Cabinet-level departments dedicated to early childhood, prenatal to age five. Then, earlier this year, the legislature and the Governor created the Early Childhood Trust Fund to reinforce New Mexico’s long-term commitment to its youngest children.”

“Today’s meeting built on that work, gathering nearly three dozen people with diverse perspectives who provided key insights into the challenges and opportunities ahead. The participants, most of whom have spent years supporting our state’s youngest children and their families, offered invaluable guidance - including lessons learned from other states’ efforts to improve their early childhood systems,” Sec. Groginsky continued.

“Through the creation of the Early Childhood Education and Care Department, New Mexico has made a national statement about its commitment to the efficiency and accountability of its early childhood system," shared Dr. Javaid Siddiqi, President & CEO of The Hunt Institute. "The Hunt Institute is honored to work alongside Secretary Groginsky and the Transition Committee in support of this important work.”

In advance of the Committee’s first meeting, The Hunt Institute issued a brief highlighting children’s early years as a crucial developmental window - and the evidence connecting investments in early childhood with “long-term savings [that] minimize the need for taxpayer funded educational, social service and criminal justice interventions.” 

Members of the Transition Committee include: 

Lieutenant Governor Howie Morales, Co-Chair 
Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, Co-Chair 
Ms. Mariana Padilla, Director and Chair, New Mexico Children’s Cabinet 
Secretary Elizabeth Groginsky, New Mexico Early Childhood Education and Care Department 
Assistant Secretary for Native American Early Childhood Education and Care Jovanna Archuleta;
Secretary Ryan Stewart, New Mexico Public Education Department 
Secretary David R. Scrase, MD, New Mexico Human Services Department;
Secretary Brian Blalock, New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department 
Secretary Lynn Trujillo, New Mexico Department of Indian Affairs 
Secretary Bill McCamley, New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions 
Secretary Kathy Kunkel, New Mexico Department of Health 
Deputy Secretary Carmen Lopez, New Mexico Higher Education Department 
President Gabe Aguilar, Mescalero Apache Tribe 
Jeremy Oyenque, Director of Youth and Learning for Santa Clara Pueblo 
Rep. Deborah Armstrong 
Rep. Gail Armstrong 
Rep. Christine Trujillo 
Rep. G. Andrés Romero 
Rep. Alonzo Baldanado 
Senator Michael Padilla 
Senator Mimi Stewart 
Senator Craig Brandt 
Dr. Becky Rowley, President, Santa Fe Community College 
Dr. Sam Minner, President, New Mexico Highlands University 
Mr. Zach Taylor, Director of Santa Fe Programs, Santa Fe Center for Transformational School Leadership 
Mr. Rob Black, President and CEO, New Mexico Association of Commerce and Industry 
Mr. Steven Gluckstern, Chairman, TeacherCraft and WeAre.Org 
Mr. Vince Kadlubek, CEO, Meow Wolf 
Mr. Javier Gonzales, Business Development, Government and Public Affairs, Descartes Labs 
Ms. BB Otero, President, Otero Strategy Group 
Ms. Harriet Dichter, Early Childhood Systems Consultant

Note: the ECECD Transition Committee is distinct from the department’s Advisory Council. The latter body, established in SB 22 last year, will be announced next month and will begin meeting this summer.


Matt Bieber
Director of Communications
Early Childhood Education and Care Department
(505) 629-9675

ECECD, IAD Host Dr. Maegan Rides at the Door for Zoom Webinar on Trauma



Free, public presentation will be held Thursday, May 28, from 1:30 - 3:00 p.m.

SANTA FE — The Early Childhood Education and Care Department has partnered with the Indian Affairs Department to host Dr. Maegan Rides at the Door, director of the National Native Children’s Trauma Center at the University of Montana, for a Zoom-based webinar on trauma. 

Dr. Rides at the Door’s presentation will address historical and intergenerational trauma - as well as the extraordinary circumstances facing our communities during the ongoing public health emergency. In particular, she will focus on the risks of secondary trauma to early childhood educators - as well as steps that educators, parents, and communities can take to adapt to today’s unprecedented challenges.

“Native communities have long faced extraordinary obstacles, and Dr. Maegan Rides at the Door knows this as well as anyone. Yet the insight, wisdom, and best practices she brings aren’t just useful on tribal lands - they’re useful in communities across New Mexico,” said Jovanna Archuleta, ECECD Assistant Secretary for Native American Early Childhood Education and Care.

“New Mexicans have stood by each other throughout this emergency - and now, we’re reaching out across the country to ensure that our communities have what they need to navigate these waters,” said IAD Cabinet Secretary Lynn Trujillo. “We thank Dr. Rides at the Door for joining us, and we look forward to learning from her.”

The webinar will be held Thursday, May 28 from 1:30 - 3:00 p.m. There is no cost, and all New Mexicans are welcome to join.

English Link:
Register in advance for this webinar:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Spanish Link:
Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 979 2862 3494
Password: 089649

Dial-In: 253-215-8782 or 1-346-248-7799.


Matt Bieber
Director of Communications
Early Childhood Education and Care Department

Sherrie Catanach
Public Relations Coordinator
New Mexico Indian Affairs Department
(505) 469-7599

NM Supreme Court provides legal framework for resuming in-person family visits in abuse and neglect cases



Administrative Office of the Courts


SANTA FE — The state Supreme Court has established legal guidelines for resuming in-person visits between children in state custody and their biological parents or guardians.

Under an order issued Thursday by the state’s highest court, district judges may permit in-person family visits if those can occur in a safe manner based on local COVID-19 conditions. Most in-person visitations have been suspended since late March because of public health risks from coronavirus.

“The Court’s order strikes an appropriate balance in protecting the health of children in state custody and the interests of parents in maintaining a family relationship,” said Chief Justice Judith K. Nakamura. “Judges can utilize public health data to help determine whether families can resume in-person visitations.”

Under the Court’s order, judges are to presume that in-person visitations are safe in areas where the regional transmission rate for COVID-19 is 1.15 or less and if a visit can be conducted according to public health procedures for minimizing the spread of the virus. However, the parties in a case, including the Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD), can present evidence why it is unsafe for visitations even with low transmission rates and safety procedures. If the regional COVID-19 transmission rates exceeds 1.15, parties can offer evidence to a district court to show how in-person visits can safely resume.

New Mexico’s regional COVID-19 transmission rates are reported in epidemiological modeling updates on the New Mexico Department of Health’s website.

In cases in which no in-person visits are occurring, CYFD and other parties must meet and determine whether in-person visitations can take place safely based on the terms of the Court’s order. If the parties reach an agreement, CYFD is to present a stipulated order to the district court for its approval with details about the planned visitation.

Until a district judge permits in-person visits, CYFD is to continue to make diligent efforts to provide for visits between parents and their children through videoconferencing and teleconferencing.


Contact: Barry Massey, public information officer

Immediate Release: PDF

ECECD Hosts UNM Experts for Public Zoom Presentation



Topics include family relationships, behavioral health, and nutrition during COVID-19

SANTA FE — Today, the Early Childhood Education and Care Department announced it will host its fifth public webinar for parents, families, and educators. This event will be held Thursday, May 21, from 3 to 4 p.m. and will cover a range of topics related to family relationships, behavioral health, and nutrition. 

The event will feature experts from the University of New Mexico’s College of Education and Human Sciences:

Ashley Martin-Cuellar is a visiting lecturer in the Family and Child Studies program, where she helps families navigate challenges using a trauma-informed approach.  

David T. Lardier is a licensed professional counselor with a PhD in Family Science and Human Development. He is currently an assistant professor in the Family and Child Studies program.

Katie Coakley is a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) and has a PhD in Nutrition and Health Sciences and a Master’s of Public Health Nutrition. She is currently an assistant professor in the Nutrition Program.

Ybeth Iglesias holds a Master's in Public Administration and Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. She has provided direct services to adolescents experiencing mental health and behavioral health issues in both public education and treatment center settings and has extensive experience supporting children as a developmental specialist and service coordinator for the NMDOH Family Infant Toddler Program.   

The presentation is open to all New Mexicans, online or by telephone.

Register in advance for this webinar:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 949 4572 4580
Dial-In: 253 215 8782 or 346 248 7799

Recordings and presentations from previous ECECD webinars can be found on


Contact: Matt Bieber
Director of Communications
Early Childhood Education and Care Department

ECECD to Host Dr. Janis Gonzales for Public Zoom Presentation



Event Will Focus on “Emerging Health Risks for Children During the COVID-19 Era”

SANTA FE — Today, the Early Childhood Education and Care Department announced that it will host its fourth public webinar for parents, families, and educators. This event - to be held on Wednesday, May 20 from 2 - 3 pm - will feature Dr. Janis Gonzales, MD, MPH, FAAP. 

Dr. Gonzales is a mother, author, pediatrician, and public health physician and currently works as the Maternal Child Health Director/Title V Director in the New Mexico Department of Health. She is also the current President of the NM Pediatric Society and the AAP Early Childhood Chapter Champion for NM, as well as the Vice President of the NM Perinatal Collaborative. Her presentation will focus on a series of topics related to child health, including PIMS - the pediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome that has emerged as a source of concern in recent weeks.

Previous ECECD Zoom presentations have covered a range of issues, including home learning and healthy communication for families during the health emergency. The recordings and slides from previous events are available here.

Dr. Gonzales’ Zoom presentation is open to all New Mexicans via the web or telephone dial-in.

English Zoom Link
Register in advance for this webinar:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Spanish Zoom Link

Meeting ID: 947 6892 5430
Password: 684370

253 215 8782
346 248 7799


Contact: Matt Bieber
Director of Communications
Early Childhood Education and Care Department

Economic Recovery Council’s COVID-Safe Practices Subcommittee on Early Childhood Education and Care Holds Initial Meeting



Subcommittee Will Focus on Health and Safety Guidance for
Child Care and Other Early Childhood Settings

SANTA FE — In recent weeks, New Mexico’s Economic Recovery Council has established a range of subcommittees designed to formulate COVID-Safe Practices (CSPs) for New Mexico’s various economic sectors.

Today, the Early Childhood Education and Care subcommittee held its first meeting via Zoom. This CSP is designed to ensure the safety of early childhood education and care professionals, the children in their care, and the families who depend on their services. 

Members of the subcommittee include: 

  1. Mark Fidel, Risk Sense, Albuquerque
  2. Priscilla Lucero, Community Partnership for Children, Silver City
  3. Phoebe Suina, High Water Mark, Bernalillo
  4. Crystal Tapia, Noah’s Ark, Albuquerque
  5. Daniela Baca, UNM Children’s Campus, Albuquerque
  6. Katherine Freeman, United Way of Santa Fe County, Santa Fe
  7. Lupe Nevarez, The Children’s Garden, Las Cruces
  8. Barbara Tedrow, The Gold Star Academy/ELAC, Farmington
  9. Rosa Barazza, Children’s World Child Development Center, Alamogordo
  10. Patricia Grovey, The Guidance Center of Lea County, Hobbs
  11. Dr. Janis Gonzales, New Mexico Department of Health
  12. Debra Baca, Youth Development Incorporated, Albuquerque
  13. Lieutenant Governor Joey Sanchez, Santa Ana Pueblo
  14.  Mayra Acevedo, Partnership for Community Action, Albuquerque
  15. Alicia Borrego, New Mexico Association for the Education of Young Children, Albuquerque
  16. Tracey Jaramillo, UNM Taos Kids Campus, Taos
  17. Beverly Fierro, Pojoaque Pueblo Early Learning Center, Pojoaque
  18. Brian Blalock, Cabinet Secretary Children Youth and Families
  19. Gwen Warniment, Deputy Secretary Public Education Department

The subcommittee’s work will be rooted in the required health and safety guidance recently issued by DOH, CYFD, and ECECD – and will adapt as necessary to new information around coronavirus, particularly as it affects young children.



Contact: Matt Bieber
Director of Communications

ECECD, IAD Distribute Infant Packages to Pueblos, Tribes, Nation



Packages Customized to Individual Communities’ Needs

SANTA FE — The Early Childhood Education and Care Department has partnered with the Indian Affairs Department to distribute infant packages to Native communities across New Mexico.

Deliveries have been made to the Pueblos of Cochiti, Santo Domingo, San Felipe, Santa Ana, Zia, San Ildefonso, Jemez, Sandia, Isleta, Acoma, Laguna, Tesuque, Pojoaque, Nambe, Santa Clara, Ohkay, Picuris, and Taos, as well as the Mescalero and Jicarilla Apache tribes. Over the coming weeks, deliveries will reach the Navajo Nation and Zuni Pueblo.

“New Mexico is home to dozens of tribal communities - and each is home to children whose needs we are eager to support. We’re delighted to partner with the Indian Affairs Department, the Children, Youth and Families Department, and a network of volunteers to deliver key materials,” said Jovanna Archuleta, ECECD Assistant Secretary for Native American Early Childhood Education and Care.

“This effort is just one of the many ways New Mexicans are supporting each other during the public health emergency,” said IAD Cabinet Secretary Lynn Trujillo. “In addition to our partners at ECECD, we want to thank the volunteers who packed and unpacked nearly 30,000 lbs of food and supplies according to each tribal community’s specific request.”

Each package contains a one-month supply of the following age-appropriate items: 

0 - 6 Months






Baby book

6 - 12 Months




Baby food, cereal and introductory snacks

Baby book

Note: Baby food and formula will be delivered in an upcoming shipment, along with other backordered items not included in the packages delivered so far.


Governor Phillip A. Perez and Monica Vigil, Nambe Pueblo Community Health Representative

Governor Phillip A. Perez and Monica Vigil, Nambe Pueblo Community Health Representative


Region IX volunteers Josh Romero & Johnny Leinneweber with Monica Vigil, Nambe Pueblo Community Health Representative



Contact: Matt Bieber
Director of Communications
Early Childhood Education and Care Department

Contact: Sherrie Catanach
Public Relations Coordinator
New Mexico Indian Affairs Department
(505) 469-7599

Juvenile Justice COVID-19 Report



During the COVID crisis and beyond, the safety of detained and committed young people is one of CYFD’s utmost priorities. Through decades of juvenile justice reform New Mexico has reduced the juvenile justice population significantly over the past two decades. This document describes the reforms that have taken place that have led to limited populations, state run detention facility responses to the COVID crisis, and recommendations given to county run detention facilities.


Contact: Charlie Moore-Pabst
Deputy Public Information Officer
Children, Youth and Families Department

Juvenile Justice COVID-19 Report: PDF

CYFD Extending Support for Youth Turning 18 in Foster Care During Pandemic



SANTA FE — New Mexico’s Children, Youth & Families Department is making sure that young people who reach their 18th birthday during the COVID-19 pandemic can continue receiving seamless support from the agency for as long as the public health crisis continues.

“CYFD wants systems impacted older youth to know we are working to make sure they have the supports they need during the COVID crisis and beyond,” said Cabinet Secretary Brian Blalock.  “During the COVID crisis we are working to make sure no older youth who needs support is ‘aged out’ or exited from care.”

CYFD has reorganized staffing patterns temporarily, making more staff available to contact and provide resources to meet the needs of young people who are nearing their 18th birthday and those who have turned 18. There are several dozen young people who will have “aged out” between February and July 2020, most of whom have accepted housing and financial support from the Department to help them during the pandemic. This support has included continuing to provide financial support to foster and kinship care providers to help support these young people remaining in their homes.

The Department is also reaching out to young people in the state who have “aged out” of care within the past 7 years. CYFD staff have been in touch with “close to 500” young people across the State who were recently in care to check in on their wellbeing and provide supports  during the pandemic. Many young people have lost jobs or housing, and CYFD is working to get them critical basic needs such as housing vouchers, food, Medicaid, and financial assistance during this time.

CYFD has also continued to support youth participating in our Independent Living Program. Youth in this program were granted an additional stipend of $175 for the month of April to support needs that may have come up in the crisis.

While pandemic supports for older youth are critical, CYFD is also working to build longer term supports to make sure older youth have what they need in order to make a successful, stable transition to adulthood. In many foster care systems, young people age out at 18. New Mexico however, has been working hard to provide better transition and support services to young people 18-21. CYFD has recently created an Office of Transition Age Youth and has been continuing to plan for implementation of extended foster care, which begins July 1, 2020.

“We are here for our young people during this pandemic, and we are making needed changes now to set CYFD’s systems up to continue to provide crucial supports that young people have told us they need in order to make a successful, stable transition to adulthood,” said Hilari Lipton, the Director of Transition Aged Youth for CYFD.


Contact: Charlie Moore-Pabst
Deputy Public Information Officer
Children, Youth and Families Department

Immediate Release: PDF

CYFD Increases Financial Support to Children and Youth in Foster Care as Pandemic “Stay at Home” Orders Continue



SANTA FE — New Mexico’s Children, Youth & Families Department has authorized additional monetary support to go to each child in foster care for the duration of the “stay at home” orders.

An additional $175 per month is being added to every foster care maintenance payment throughout the duration of the pandemic. The first payment was sent on April 17th for the month of April. Older youth connected to CYFD through departmental Independent Living programs also received a one-time crisis stipend of $175.

“Making sure marginalized children and youth in our New Mexico are supported during this crisis is critical.” Cabinet Secretary Brian Blalock said. “We hope these additional funds will support children, youth, and families who are dealing with additional stresses brought on by the COVID pandemic.”

CYFD staff members are supporting children and families in many ways during the pandemic. Additional supports include making more frequent visits via video and phone to check on youth wellness and their needs, assisting with food supports so no child or youth goes hungry, providing books to children in care who need them, and much more, reading books to children over the phone and sending books that have been donated to families to help children maintain learning while schools are closed.


Contact: Charlie Moore-Pabst
Deputy Public Information Officer
Children, Youth and Families Department

Immediate Release: PDF

State of New Mexico feeding thousands of children, seniors, tribal members during pandemic



SANTA FE — State government agencies have delivered more than 5.4 million meals to children and youth, more than 293,000 meals to seniors and, separately, more than 400,000 pounds of food items to those communities most in need throughout New Mexico since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and the initial issuance of “stay at home” directives. The state has also increased the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) enrollments and benefits to families and has implemented innovative, collaborative efforts to deliver meals to tribal communities across the state.

“I am incredibly grateful to the state employees from every community across this state who have stepped up in this crisis to make sure New Mexicans have access to nutritional food and clean water,” Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said. “We are truly all in this together as one state government to serve the people of this state, from our tribal neighbors to the elderly to families in need and so many more.”

Keeping New Mexicans fed and increasing food security for children, youth and seniors has been achieved through extensive collaboration between the Governor’s Office, the state’s Emergency Operations Center, the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management along with multiple state government agencies, tribal governments, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), New Mexico farmers, food banks, meal suppliers, local governments, corporate foundations and other funders. The New Mexico National Guard has been a critical partner in making food deliveries.

The state Public Education Department and Children, Youth and Families Department continue to provide meals for children at school and community sites through federal United States Department of Agriculture waivers that made “grab and go” meals prepared in school cafeterias possible. More than 102,000 children and youth per day are receiving these meals, which they pick up at local schools or in other community locations. 

PED also worked with the new Early Childhood Education and Care Department to apply for the waivers and both agencies will follow through with uninterrupted meal provision through the regular NM Summer Meals Program, which was the model for the pandemic meals to go efforts.

The state Indian Affairs Department and the CYFD are also working with the USDA to deliver meals to children and youth living in Tribal communities through a new Meals-2-You home delivery pilot program.

To date, Meals-2-You, which is supported by PepsiCo’s Food for Good Foundation and Baylor University, has delivered more than 42,000 meals to children who live in tribal communities in New Mexico. In most cases, food for each child is delivered to the tribe, nation or pueblo’s emergency management team for distribution. Additional waivers granted by the USDA allowed for two weeks’ worth of nutritious breakfasts and lunches to be delivered at a time.

Recognizing the impact of the closure of Gallup on food and water supply, state agencies sprung into action to make sure that marginalized New Mexicans do not go hungry.

With a mission of “do right and feed everybody,” the USDA also has partnered with the New Mexico Aging and Long-Term Services Department to replicate this meal delivery program to provide meals to at-risk seniors both across New Mexico and on sovereign land. The ALTSD has provided more than 293,000 meals.

All children, youth and families enrolled in the Federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program have also received the maximum available benefit for the months of March and April. The Human Services Department has worked to increase SNAP enrollment for eligible families statewide, with a spike in applications by more than 40 percent in the month of April for this food support, enrolling an estimated 316,685 additional individuals. The department also provided an increased monthly stipend to households that did not receive the maximum SNAP benefits during the months of March and April with an average increase of $120 per household.

New Mexico families will receive more than $97 million in additional food benefits – enough to feed about 245,000 vulnerable children – following federal approval of a Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer Program.

New Mexico households with children who receive free or reduced-price meals will receive benefits of $5.70 per child, per day for the 70-day period from March 16, 2020 when public schools were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, through June 19, 2020. New Mexico households can receive Pandemic-EBT as well as continue to receive food distributions from their child’s school site. This will be deposited directly to existing EBT cards for families already receiving aid.

The Pandemic-EBT program will also benefit families that did not previously qualify for free or reduced-price meals but may now qualify due to changes in their household’s circumstances as a result of the restrictions implemented for non-essential businesses because of the COVID-19 response. Those families should contact their school district food service office to apply for benefits. If determined eligible, their children will receive Pandemic-EBT, and the benefit will be issued for the month determined eligible through June.

Families in need of free breakfasts and lunches for children under the age of 18, can find the closest meal distribution location here​. Disabled adults or seniors in need of food assistance can call 800-432-2080. Tribal members should reach out to their local emergency operations center for information on food and water distribution on Tribal land.


Contact: Melody Wells
Public Information Officer
Children, Youth and Families Department

Immediate Release: PDF

ECECD Hosts Third Public Webinar for Parents and Caregivers of Young Children



Event Will Feature Bhanu Joy Harrison, Albuquerque-Based Clinical Social Worker and Expert in Body-Centered and Mindfulness-Based Trauma Resolution and Self-Regulation

SANTA FE — Today, the Early Childhood Education and Care Department announced the third in a series of Zoom-based presentations to support parents, families, and educators during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

On Thursday, May 7, from 1 – 2 p.m., the public is invited to attend a webinar led by Bhanu Joy Harrison, LCSW, SEP. Harrison’s presentation will focus on simple techniques for emotional self-regulation during this unprecedented time.

Based in Albuquerque, Harrison offers mindfulness classes and trainings for individuals, psychotherapists, businesses, and other organizations. She also teaches trauma-informed mindfulness facilitation skills in the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center’s Training in Mindfulness Facilitation program. More information about her approach can be found at

May 7, 2020 1 PM Mountain Time

Register in advance for this webinar:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing login/call-in details.

May 7, 2020 1 PM Mountain Time

Join via Zoom:

Meeting ID: 913 4397 4132
Dial-In: 669-900-6833 or 253-215-8782

In the coming weeks, ECECD will host additional public events to support educators, parents, and families.


Contact: Matt Bieber
Director of Communications
Early Childhood Education and Care Department

Early Childhood Education and Care Department to Host Free Webinar for Parents, Families, and Educators



The University of New Mexico Health Sciences’ Dr. Rebecca Ezechukwu to focus on healthy routines for families during the public health emergency

SANTA FE — Today, the Early Childhood Education and Care Department (ECECD) announced the second in a series of Zoom-based presentations to support parents, families, and educators during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The upcoming presentation will feature Dr. Rebecca N. Ezechukwu, a clinical psychologist and assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at UNM Health Sciences.

Dr. Ezechukwu will offer guidance around establishing routines to manage family stress. Her presentation will explain why doing so can be beneficial – and how to get started. Dr. Ezechukwu will also offer strategies for balancing multiple roles as a parent/caregiver, creating space for emotional check-ins with kids, and overall family resilience. She will also discuss how educators can help support routines through their instructional choices.
Dr. Ezechukwu’s presentation follows last week’s event with Dr. Alicia Lieberman, director of UCSF’s Child Trauma Research Program. For those who are not able to participate in this week’s live event, a recording – as well as Dr. Ezechukwu’s PowerPoint slides – will be available here.  
The webinar will take place from 3 – 4 p.m. on Thursday, April 30, and is open to the general public. New Mexicans who would like to participate can register here:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
Topic: ECECD Spanish Webinar #3
Time: Apr 30, 2020 3:00 PM Mountain Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 953 8869 4400



Contact: Matt Bieber
Director of Communications
Early Childhood Education and Care Department

Source: Los Alamos Reporter

Suspension to continue on court-ordered in-person family visits in abuse and neglect cases



SANTA FE — Because of the ongoing public health risks from COVID-19, the New Mexico Supreme Court is extending limitations on in-person visits between children in state custody and their biological parents or guardians.

In-person visitations required by district courts in abuse and neglect cases will remain suspended until further order of the Supreme Court. An order issued by the state’s highest court extended the suspension, which was implemented last month and would have expired on April 26.

Under the order, the Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD) is to make diligent efforts to provide for visits between parents and their children through videoconferencing and teleconferencing.


Contact: Barry Massey, public information officer

Immediate Release: PDF

ECECD Begins Distributing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to Early Childhood Professionals



SANTA FE — Today, the New Mexico Early Childhood Education and Care Department (ECECD) began distributing “starter packs” of personal protective equipment (PPE) to early childhood personnel serving other essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

These packets include face shields (for taking children's temperatures), surgical masks, and gloves; the size of the packets depends on the size and type of child care setting (e.g. home or center). The equipment will reach over 1,100 facilities, staffed by over 3,000 early childhood professionals, serving more than 7,500 children ages 6 weeks to 12 years. 

Fifteen volunteer team leaders from across the state are helping distribute PPE to child care centers and homes throughout their regions - a true team effort. 
Today, with the help of more than a dozen volunteers, including members of the Kiwanis Club, ECECD staff distributed packets at the Maloof facility in Albuquerque. Tomorrow, (April 23) the team will do the same: 
Location: 3401 Pan American Freeway NE 87107
Time: 12 noon to 3 p.m.
Providers may drive up to the front of the building and staff will be available; the ECECD team will be wearing masks and gloves and can either load materials in providers’ trunks or leave car-side.
On April 21, ECECD also mailed packets to Gallup, Farmington, and Socorro. The Department has assigned regional leads who will be in touch with local providers regarding distribution. 
In Las Cruces, the UNM Hub will assist with distribution and pickup.
Location: UNM Early Childhood Services Center HUB
301 S. Church Street
Las Cruces, NM
Time: Thursday, April 23 - 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday, April 24 - 9 a.m. to noon
Curbside pickup will be available on the north side of the building; providers can look for signage with a number to call upon arrival.
UNM is also delivering PPE to the other 5 counties (Otero, Lincoln, Luna, Grant, and Hidalgo) in the south - and is contacting providers directly in those areas for pickup and/or delivery.  
ECECD and DOH have located a vendor who can supply large quantities of no-touch thermometers for child care centers that remain open to serve essential personnel. ECECD is working through the purchase process as quickly as possible. 
Child Face Coverings
Many centers have already made child-sized face coverings. In addition, ECECD is in the process of acquiring 5000 more - and will distribute them as soon as possible.
Providers Interested in Helping with PPE Distribution
If providers would like to help lead PPE distribution in their areas, they may email


Contact: Matt Bieber
Director of Communications
Early Childhood Education and Care Department

Immediate Release: PDF

New Mexico State Agencies Launch Free, Virtual Talks for Parents and Educators



Experts on Parenting, Child Development, and Behavioral Health Will Offer Presentations, Answer Questions from New Mexicans

SANTA FE — Today, the Early Childhood Education and Care Department (ECECD) and the Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD) announced a series of Zoom-based presentations to support parents, families, and educators during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The first presentation will be led by Dr. Alicia Lieberman, the Irving B. Harris Endowed Chair in Infant Mental Health and Vice Chair for Academic Affairs at the UCSF Department of Psychiatry, and Director of the Child Trauma Research Program. Dr. Lieberman is the author of “The Emotional Life of the Toddler” and a world-renowned expert on relationships between parents and young children. 
On Friday, April 24, from 11 a.m. - 12 noon Mountain Time, Dr. Alicia Lieberman will lead a Zoom presentation titled "Parenting Under Stress: What Parents and Young Children Need in Uncertain and Dangerous Times." The presentation is primarily designed for parents who are home with children, but all New Mexicans are welcome to participate. Dr. Lieberman will open with a presentation, followed by Q&A. 
New Mexicans can register in advance for this webinar:
After doing so, registrants will receive a confirmation email containing login / call-in details.

For New Mexicans who are interested in accessing this content but cannot attend on Friday, ECECD and CYFD will post the presentation online.

In the coming weeks, the state will host additional webinars with child and family psychologists from UNM, as well as other experts.


Contact: Matt Bieber
Director of Communications
Early Childhood Education and Care Department

Contact: Melody Wells
Public Information Officer
Children, Youth and Families Department

Immediate Release: PDF

New Mexico Unveils App for Behavioral Health Support



SANTA FE — The state of New Mexico has launched NMConnect, a new phone app that provides free 24-hour crisis and non-crisis support and access to behavioral health professionals who can text or talk via phone with individuals needing a listening ear or referrals to longer-term support. The app links users to the New Mexico Crisis Access Line (NMCAL), which provides safety net services statewide. NMCAL is still available via phone 24/7 toll-free by calling 1-855-NMCRISIS (1-855-662-7474).

“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to force physical isolation, many people may experience challenging behavioral health symptoms, some perhaps for the first time. This app connects to NMCAL, which is a one stop shop for any and all behavioral health resources across the state of New Mexico,” said Bryce Pittenger, CEO of the New Mexico Behavioral Health Collaborative.

The NMConnect app will help close gaps in access to behavioral health services by providing  direct contact to professionals. NMConnect also provides resources including self-care tips for people in recovery from substance use and other behavioral health challenges, and information on COVID-19 and New Mexico’s response.

The NMConnect app, available now for iPhone and Android, includes a “one touch” button for connection to a mental health professional on the State of New Mexico’s 24-hour crisis and access hotline. For non-crisis support, including help finding a therapist or support group, or to just to engage with someone that has been there, the “Text Warmline” option connects people to  a certified peer support specialist for non-emergency support (available from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.) and a “Call Warmline” option is available for peer to peer phone conversations with someone in recovery from their own mental health diagnosis, (available from 3:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.). All are accessible via the app from any cellular smartphone.

About the New Mexico Behavioral Health Collaborative: The New Mexico Behavioral Health Collaborative is a legislatively mandated collaboration of Behavioral Health related cabinet secretaries, several state agencies and multiple resources across state government that are involved in behavioral health prevention, treatment, and recovery. This cabinet-level group represents 15 state agencies and the Governor’s office.


CYFD Contact:
Melody Wells
Public Information Officer

Immediate Release: PDF

Secretary of CYFD Weighs in on Challenges Facing Foster Care in the Age of COVID-19

By MK Mendoza, Santa Fe Public Radio


State Secretary of Children, Youth and Families Brian Blalock weighs in on the difficulties foster children face during the pandemic of COVID-19. Take a listen here.


Source: KSFR 101.1 FM

New Mexico Early Childhood Funders Group Launches Emergency Response Grants Program

For Immediate Release: Matt Bieber, Director of Communications
Early Childhood Education Care Department


SANTA FE - Today, Early Childhood Education and Care Department Secretary Elizabeth Groginsky announced the launch of a new grant program designed to support infants, toddlers, and their families during the COVID-19 crisis. The Early Childhood Emergency Response Grants program - an initiative of the New Mexico Early Childhood Funders Group (NMECFG) - will meet immediate needs pertaining to early childhood during the pandemic.
“For years, the NMECFG has been at the core of New Mexico’s efforts to improve the lives of children and their families. They advocated for the creation of our new department, as well as the Early Childhood Trust Fund that passed the Legislature earlier this year. Now, in the midst of a public health emergency, the Funders Group is stepping up again to meet some of our communities’ most pressing needs,” said Secretary Groginsky.
Organizations can apply here. Funding decisions will be made weekly by the NMECFG, and grants will be administered by the Santa Fe Community Foundation. Examples of potential grants include, but are not limited to, supplies and materials, personal protective equipment, programming specific to supporting families of young children during the emergency, technology needs, and technical assistance.
Note: these funds are intended to fill in gaps that Small Business Administration programs, state funds, and other grants cannot address.
Guidelines for submitting proposals include: 
-- Organizations must operate within New Mexico and must hold 501(c)3 nonprofit status from the IRS (or have a fiscal sponsor), or be a federally-recognized tribe.
-- Initially, organizations may only submit one application to the Early Childhood Emergency Response Fund; additional requests may be considered depending on the duration of this crisis. 
-- Grants will range up to $5,000, with exceptions considered for nonprofits demonstrating substantial reach across a number of early childhood programs. 
-- This application will be considered separate from any other 2020 grant application submitted to any of the funders contributing toward this pooled fund. No information provided in this request will influence any additional funding decisions. 
-- Applications may be submitted at any time; the NMECFG will aim to provide a response within a week of your submission. Requests not immediately funded may be referred to other funding sources, if appropriate. 
-- All funding will be unrestricted.
NMECFG appreciates the philanthropic efforts to address urgent needs presented by the COVID-19 pandemic in New Mexico. Within this context, we invite grant makers to join this initiative to address the needs of the youngest children in our communities. Contributing members include: Brindle Foundation, JF Maddox Foundation, LANL Foundation, R.T. Keeler Foundation, Santa Fe Baby Fund (Santa Fe Community Foundation), and Thornburg Foundation. "Each of our foundations is committed to supporting our youngest and most vulnerable populations, working through this health crisis to create an even stronger early childhood system,” said Michael Weinberg, early childhood policy officer for the Thornburg Foundation. 
NOTE: If you are a child care, home visiting, or early intervention program in need of food, child care supplies, or cleaning supplies, please also explore the resources available at For other needs, call (800) 691-9067.


Contact: Matt Bieber
Director of Communications
Early Childhood Education and Care Department
(505) 629-9675

Immediate Release: PDF

Governor officially extends emergency order to April 30

By New Mexico Department of Health


SANTA FE – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Monday announced additional restrictions to disrupt the spread of the COVID-19 virus in New Mexico and instructed New Mexicans to remain in their homes or places of residence except for outings absolutely necessary for health, safety and welfare.

The order — to be issued by Secretary of Health Kathy Kunkel and effective 8 a.m. Tuesday, March 24 — closes all non-essential businesses, requiring 100 percent of the state’s non-essential workforce to work from home. As in other states that have enacted similar measures, there are exceptions pertaining to essential services for the preservation of health, safety and well-being.

“The only way for us to stop the spread of this virus is for New Mexicans to stop interacting with each other,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham. “New Mexicans must be crystal-clear on this point: Right now, every time you leave your house, you are putting yourself, your family and your community at risk. Only by distancing from one another, by remaining home except for essential or emergency travel, can we limit the spread of this virus to the point that it does not overwhelm New Mexico. 

“This clearly exempts people who are part of the essential functions that must continue: The individuals providing meals for kids at our schools; the individuals working at health care facilities, child care facilities, public safety entities and many more. Those individuals are helping keep us operating — in a new and limited way. They deserve our profound gratitude.

“As we wait for the federal government to get states the help we need in expanding capacity and testing materials and financial assistance, staying home is the one action all of us, individually and as a group, can control,” the governor added. “Please stay home. Help protect New Mexico.”

Intended to aggressively limit person-to-person contact in the state, the amended emergency public health order closes all non-essential businesses except for remote work. 

The order advises that New Mexicans “must stay at home and undertake only those outings absolutely necessary for their health, safety or welfare” and further restricts “mass gatherings” of five or more individuals in outdoor spaces.

“Does this order mean you cannot walk your dog? No. Does it mean you can’t go for a jog? No. But you should not do those things in a group — and you should be home as soon as possible,” the governor said. “This social isolation strategy will only work if we all undertake it to the greatest extent we can. That boils down to one thing: Stay home.”

...The order is in effect until April 30.

Read on and click here to learn what businesses are deemed essential that may remain open and other critical information such as enforcement, hoarding, illness and testing, and important contact numbers.


PED, CYFD, ECECD, IAD, and HED Announce Collaborative Plans to Protect, Feed, and Educate Children - and to Support Families - During Public Health Emergency



SANTA FE — On Tuesday, New Mexico state agencies - including the Public Education Department (PED), Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD), Early Childhood Education and Care Department (ECECD), Indian Affairs Department (IAD), and Higher Education Department (HED) - announced expanded plans for coordination during the COVID-19 public health emergency. The goal of these collaborative efforts is to ensure that children in New Mexico are protected, fed, and educated, and that families are supported, during this crisis. 
“We know that numbers don’t begin to tell the story of how this crisis has hurt New Mexicans,” said ECECD Secretary Elizabeth Groginsky. “And just as individuals and communities across New Mexico are helping their neighbors in new and inspiring ways, state agencies are teaming up to deliver better-coordinated, better-targeted, and more effective supports to our fellow New Mexicans.”
“School has never just been a place where kids go to learn,” says PED Secretary Ryan Stewart. “With our school buildings physically closed to students for the remainder of the academic year, state agencies are partnering in new and unprecedented ways to make sure that the physical, social and emotional needs of young New Mexicans are met while we practice distancing strategies to stop the spread of COVID-19.” 
"Many New Mexican families have been living with complex challenges for generations, but the COVID crisis further exposes the needs of our state's most impacted people,” said Children, Youth and Families Department Cabinet Secretary Brian Blalock. “Across our divisions, CYFD is ready to step up to the plate in providing innovative services while improving old systems to respond to the crisis now and be stronger in the future. Should any family be in need of supports, CYFD and the state of New Mexico are here for you."
“Many tribal communities still lack access to the internet, running water and electricity,” said IAD Secretary Lynn Trujillo. “The Indian Affairs Department continues to work with our tribal, state and federal partners to leverage the resources that will help to support tribes through this difficult time. Our partnership with our sister agencies PED, CYFD, ECECD and HED stands as a testament to the state’s commitment to all 23 tribes, nations and pueblos of New Mexico.”
Protecting Children
In addition to closing public schools, PED is maintaining social distancing at meal pick-up sites and distributing guidance to school districts and charter schools regarding student privacy to ensure child safety during online learning. 
Similarly, CYFD is taking advantage of phone and video technology to “over-visit” with youth in care in order to identify, address, and meet their needs. CYFD is also increasing telehealth availability for critical behavioral health services for children and adults. In addition, the Department is increasing communication with domestic violence shelters, youth shelters, hospitals, police, the Department of Health, and other partners involved in keeping children safe.
The New Mexico Crisis and Access Line remains open 24/7 to provide nonjudgmental support with mental health challenges and issues surrounding COVID-19. (NMCAL can be reached at 1-855-662-7474.) Statewide Central Intake (SCI) is also fully staffed 24/7 to receive, screen, log and prepare staff to investigate all reports of suspected child abuse or neglect. (SCI can be reached at 1-855-333-7233 or #SAFE from a cell phone.)

CYFD is working with youth shelters and domestic violence shelters to establish emergency operations and continuity of operations plans. CYFD’s juvenile justice facilities have established such plans, as well as procedures for supporting young people who may have been exposed to COVID-19 or who test positive but do not need hospitalization. The Department is also working with the Human Services Department (HSD) and other agencies to identify funding that would support hotel vouchers for quarantined or self-isolated individuals and families who have no place to live but who may be exposed to COVID-19.

CYFD investigators also continue to investigate reports of suspected child abuse and neglect - and are taking proper health and hygiene precautions to protect children, families and themselves.

Similarly, ECECD has issued enhanced health and safety guidelines for child care centers that remain open to support other classes of essential workers.

Feeding Children
PED and CYFD continue to offer “grab and go” meals, reaching 47% of students in New Mexico. The Departments also obtained a USDA waiver that allows parents or guardians to pick up meals while their students are at home, including picking up several days’ worth of food at once. PED and CYFD distribute over 200,000 meals a day.
ECECD is likewise continuing to connect child care centers with essential food and supplies. The Department is also coordinating feeding sites across the state, including in tribal communities.
Funding from CYFD for shelters, including youth and domestic violence shelters, includes daily meal provisions for 3 meals and snacks per person. And in collaboration with PED and ECECD, CYFD is also coordinating and providing information to all shelters about meals available for youth at school and community sites.
Additionally, CYFD staff members are volunteering to pick up and deliver meals to New Mexicans’ doorsteps - including families headed by seniors and grandparents - via coordination with the Department of Aging and Long-Term Services. 
IAD is coordinating with CYFD on meal-sites in tribal communities - as well as responding to requests from tribal leadership on streamlining meal services for children and families.
Educating Children
While public schools are closed, PED is requiring districts to provide Continuous Learning Plans (CLP), including online learning and other forms of remote learning. The Department is also exploring the purchase of mobile devices and increased Internet connectivity for communities without broadband.
PED is also maintaining special education services for students with disabilities ages 3-21. Schools will remain responsible for providing free appropriate public education (FAPE) - in a safe environment - of eligible students who have an individualized education program (IEP). 
PED is also supporting vulnerable students by ensuring that communities have mechanisms for connecting with educators - whether by phone, learning packets, or devices with downloaded curriculum. The Department is also informing families of support services at community schools, including food depots and virtual counseling services, and is keeping school-based health clinics open.
PED is making extra efforts to support English language learners, including ensuring that families have information in home languages, providing multiple options for demonstrating work, and preserving ratios for English language instruction in online settings. The Department is also focused on delivering resources to at-risk students and their families, as well as prioritizing transition grade levels (including high school seniors and 8th graders). And during this stressful time, the Department is emphasizing socio-emotional learning as much as academic learning. 
In order to facilitate a smooth, orderly transition to distance learning and online platforms, PED is also offering professional development opportunities to all educational partners, including private schools and nonprofits. In particular, PED is collaborating with IAD to offer support for tribal charter schools and Bureau of Indian Education schools.
ECECD is also offering extensive resources to families and children under the stay-at-home order. This includes assembling a cross-departmental Home Learning Initiative with CYFD, PED, and external partners to provide top-quality educational, health, child development, and mindfulness-related resources via the Internet, traditional media, and paper-based resources.
In addition, the Department is providing ongoing early childhood development services via early interventions, child care, home visiting and pre-K. ECECD has also lowered barriers to service by establishing presumptive eligibility for infants and toddlers with developmental delays or disabilities. 
IAD is also collaborating with PED and the Department of Information Technology (DoIT) to address concerns related to broadband access and other educational resources - as well as providing resources to tribal leadership and tribal education directors on how tech- and non-technology-based virtual learning can work in rural communities.
CYFD is developing additional, creative educational activities and content to deliver to foster families, youth in care, and young people in juvenile justice facilities. Examples include virtual book clubs, household supply science experiments and other fun activities. The Department will also work with families to help coordinate access to educational options offered through individual school districts - and check in with children in care and families on school progress.
HED has asked colleges and universities to work with school districts to ensure dual-credit students can complete their coursework, including via online instruction. Dual-credit high school seniors who need a dual-credit class to meet high school graduation requirements will receive priority. HED has also asked colleges and universities to offer the option of withdrawing or receiving an incomplete for students who cannot get Internet access.
Supporting Families
While protecting public health is the first priority of all state agencies, we recognize the many impacts that this crisis has on normal community life. PED is strongly urging districts to find a way to host graduations and other milestone events - either virtually while the stay-at-home order is in place or after it is lifted. The Department is also ensuring that families have continued connectivity with counselors and social workers.
Similarly, ECECD is continuing to provide home visiting services for pregnant mothers and young families. The Department has also waived child care copayments and expanded child care eligibility for health care professionals, first responders and other essential employees.  
CYFD is also working to support families with children in foster care through enhanced access to phone or video visits in order to maintain family connections and continue progress on reunification plans. In addition, the Department is standing up telehealth services for behavioral health care, conducting weekly meetings with domestic violence and youth shelters to help meet their needs, and connecting families and shelters with food and supplies.
IAD is partnering with tribal governments to address worker displacement and develop safety protocols for working families - as well as supporting tribal communities in building community response plans.


Contact: Matt Bieber
Director of Communications
Early Childhood Education and Care Department

Contact: Nancy Martira
Director of Communications
Public Education Department

Contact: Melody Wells
Public Information Officer
Children, Youth and Families Department

Contact: Sherrie Catanach
Public Relations Coordinator
Indian Affairs Department

Contact: Carmen J. Lopez
Deputy Secretary
Higher Education Department

New Mexico Supreme Court Suspends In-Person CYFD Family Visits for 30 Days in Response To COVID-19 Outbreak

For Immediate Release: Melody Wells, Public Information Officer


Read the entire New Mexico Supreme Court’s order here

SANTA FE -- The Children, Youth & Families Department announced Friday that it will begin facilitating court-ordered family visits for children who are in foster care through video and telephone conferencing. This is to comply with a directive from the New Mexico Supreme Court that suspends in-person visits for 30 days because of public health risks from COVID-19. 

“Suspending in-person visitations is an incredibly difficult decision for the Department, as we know it will cause heartbreak for many children and families working towards reunification,” said” CYFD Secretary Brian Blalock. “Everyone in the state must do everything we can to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This is one of the most painful decisions in service of slowing the spread. Though there may be increased physical separations, we will work to build increased family connections in these uncertain times.” 

The suspension will remain in effect until April 26, unless extended or otherwise modified by the Supreme Court. 

“The Court’s order balances the legal rights of parents and their interests in maintaining a relationship with their children in state custody and the need to protect the health and safety of the children during the COVID-19 public health emergency,” said Chief Justice Judith K. Nakamura.

The new precautionary measures represent a collaborative effort by the executive and judicial branches of government based on feedback from representatives of children and parents as well as judges who preside over abuse and neglect cases.

The Court directed CYFD to provide for family visits through videoconferencing as a first preference and teleconferencing as a second preference. In-person visits may be allowed by a district court, upon recommendation of CYFD, and if it is shown that necessary precautions are taken to protect the health of the children. The department also must make biweekly reports to district court judges about CYFD’s efforts to provide for family visits and safeguard children. The suspension only applies to children in CYFD custody, and has no impact on private child custody matters.

CYFD will work with families to facilitate access to technology to support video visits. Telephonic visits will be used when video visits are not possible. “The Department is committed to reinstating in-person visits as soon as it is deemed safe to do so,” said Secretary Blalock. “Family reunification, whenever it is safe to do so, is the foundation of New Mexico’s child welfare system. Visits and connection are key to family reunification.”


CYFD Contact:
Melody Wells
Public Information Officer

Contact for New Mexico Courts:
Barry Massey, Public Information Officer

Immediate Release: PDF

State of New Mexico reaches innovative settlement agreement with foster youth and child advocates


N.M. to develop a trauma-responsive system for children in state custody and expand their commitment to Native youth

ALBUQUERQUE — The State of New Mexico’s Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD) and Human Services Department (HSD) have reached an innovative settlement with foster youth and their advocates.

The CYFD and HSD settlement plan includes:

  • Developing a trauma-responsive system of care for all children in state custody.
  • Placing children in out-of-home care in stable, safe, appropriate, community-based placements in the least-restrictive environment.
  • Building a relationship with each of the New Mexico Nations, Tribes and Pueblos, and comply with the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) — making every effort to ensure that all Native children and families receive appropriate support and services.
  • Building a statewide, community-based behavioral health system that all children and families will be able to access.
  • Implementing training, supervision, and support for agency staff, foster parents, and other adults who serve children impacted by trauma.

The trauma-responsive system of care will fully integrate Medicaid’s behavioral health screening and service delivery for children in foster care.

The lawsuit, KEVIN S., et al. v. BLALOCK, et al., No. 1:18-cv-00896 was filed in 2018 with the previous administration on behalf of 14 foster youth and two advocacy organizations: Disability Rights New Mexico, and Native American Disability Law Center. It alleged that trauma-impacted children and youth in New Mexico foster care lacked safe, appropriate and stable placements, and behavioral health services to meet their needs in the state system.

Under Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, who has made improving the lives of children and youth a priority of the Administration, the new CYFD and HSD Cabinet Secretaries Brian Blalock and David Scrase, respectively, identified the needs for trauma-informed, behavioral health-focused reforms and for addressing the needs of Native youth, specifically. The aims of the lawsuit and of their plans aligned and made this settlement agreement possible.

“My heartfelt goal since becoming cabinet secretary is to improve CYFD for the sake of New Mexico’s vulnerable children and youth,” said Sec. Brian Blalock, who joined the department with Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s administration four months after the initial filing. “CYFD and HSD have been working to address and resolve these exact issues since the beginning of this administration, and this settlement perfectly aligns with these efforts.”

“We know from our work with children and youth in New Mexico that there is a huge need for a child welfare system that is based around the principle of understanding and responding to the impacts of trauma,” said Nancy Koenigsberg of Disability Rights New Mexico. “This settlement will allow all of us to work together to build a system that will fulfill that need.”

This new system of care is the first of its kind and could serve as a national model for addressing the needs of trauma-impacted children in foster care.

The development of a coordinated, trauma-responsive, and evidence-based system of care in New Mexico is central to HSD’s efforts in reinforcing behavioral health for children, families and all of our neighbors in New Mexico,” said Neal Bowen, Behavioral Health Services Division Director.

Children entering the foster care system are highly likely to have experienced multiple forms of trauma. Medical and social science have established that exposure to trauma deeply impacts brain activity, function and development, particularly in the developing brain of a child or young person.

For too long, our institutions and systems serving young people have lagged behind what we know is true about the impact of childhood trauma. We are proud to have developed an ambitious plan to fully implement trauma-responsive principles across all levels of the child welfare system,” said Kathryn Eidmann of Public Counsel, a lawyer for the Plaintiffs.

The settlement also recognizes and addresses the specific needs and interests of Native children in foster care, who are entitled to protections under the ICWA.

This agreement ensures that Native children have access to traditional ceremonies, that culturally responsive healing practices are promoted throughout the state and realizes the protections of ICWA. It also recognizes that strengthening the family unit is a vital part of the healing process and makes sure that children are placed appropriately with their families and within their communities so this healing process can begin,” said Donalyn Sarracino, CYFD Tribal Liaison.

The agreement sets up an ongoing partnership between CYFD, HSD and the Plaintiffs.  Three Co-Neutrals with national reputations as leaders in the field will be intimately involved in evaluating and helping guide the reform effort: Kevin Ryan of Public Catalyst in Iselin, NJ; Judith Meltzer, President of the Center for the Study of Social Policy in Washington, DC, and Pamela S. Hyde, Principal of Hyde & Associates – Policy and Practice Consulting, LLC in Santa Fe, NM.

We are grateful to work with an administration that is so committed to New Mexico’s most vulnerable children. All parties approached this process in the spirit of collaboration and recognized that protracted costly litigation was not in anyone’s interest. This effort yielded a groundbreaking result on a fast timeline and will not only bring essential support and services to children who need it most but will serve as a national model for other states facing similar challenges,” said Tara Ford of the Stanford Youth and Education Law Project, counsel for Plaintiffs.

Plaintiffs are represented by Public Counsel; Munger Tolles & Olson; Stanford Youth and Education Law Project; Disability Rights New Mexico; The Rodey Law Firm, Martinez, Hart, Thompson & Sanchez, P.C.; Freedman Boyd Hollander Goldberg Urias & Ward, PA; The Law Firm of Alexander D. Crecca; and The Law Office of Ryan J. Villa.


Read the full agreement: KEVIN S., et al. v. BLALOCK, et al. Settlement Agreement

CYFD and HSD Contact:
Charlie Moore-Pabst
Deputy Public Information Officer

Contact for Plaintiffs:
Joshua Busch, Public Counsel
213-385-2977, ext. 121

Immediate Release: PDF

What other states can learn from New Mexico’s coronavirus response



New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham explains why, despite the low number of confirmed coronavirus cases in her states, she's taking aggressive action including an 18-day stay-at-home order.

Click here to watch the video.

Early Childhood Education and Care Department Offers Guidance for Child Care Providers Amidst “Stay at Home” Order

For Immediate Release: Matt Bieber, Director of Communications
Early Childhood Education Care Department


SANTA FE - On Monday, New Mexico Early Childhood Education and Care Secretary Elizabeth Groginsky commented on Governor Lujan Grisham’s “stay at home” order.

The order, which goes into effect at 8 am on Tuesday, March 24, requires all non-essential businesses to close and limit activities for New Mexicans outside of their homes. The goal of the order is to limit the spread of COVID-19. 

“The Governor understands that child care providers are front-line, essential workers. They are first responders. Without them, our public health workforce couldn’t contain the virus or care for the sick. Without them, government couldn’t deliver indispensable services. Without them, some of our children wouldn’t have a safe, healthy place to go,” said Secretary Groginsky.

“Child care providers who support workers in essential businesses or essential non-profits are exempt from the order,” said Secretary Groginsky. “This means that they may continue to operate during the public health emergency. If a child care provider is not providing care to support essential workers - and wants to continue to provide care - ECECD and CYFD will work with the provider to determine whether they might be able to fulfill unmet child care needs.” 

The Early Childhood Education and Care Department is also waiving parents’ March and April copayments for child care assistance and offering a financial incentive for centers that stay open: $250 per month per enrolled child in the child care assistance program. Providers who need food or other supplies can also fill out a brief survey at, and a member of the ECECD team will assist them. 

Today’s update follows on last week’s announcement that New Mexico will offer free, comprehensive family health coverage for any child care worker who is diagnosed with COVID-19.


Contact: Matt Bieber

Immediate Release: PDF

Things you can do to fight loneliness, boredom while self-isolating for COVID-19

Public Advisory: Lisa Fitting, Director of Operations


SANTA FE – Social distancing to limit spread of COVID-19 doesn’t have to mean social isolation or boredom. The state of New Mexico is advising some healthy, fun and responsible ways for those who are isolating to stay occupied during the public health crisis:


  • Connect with friends – on the phone or online. Keep your relationships alive by talking every day to friends, neighbors and relatives. Check in by phone with the elderly people in your life. Use apps like Skype, FaceTime, Zoom, Google Hangouts or Marco Polo to video chat with long-distance friends. Set a goal to call one or two people each day. Relationships are essential for our mental health. They’re also good for the immune system: one study shows connectedness has a bigger impact on mortality than quitting smoking.​
  • Read. Books. Magazines. Digitally or in print. This is a great time to revisit the classics, catch up on new releases or indulge in your favorite genre fiction. Reading expands your mind and sets a great example for your children, putting them on a path to become lifelong readers, too. The New Mexico State Library has a books-by-mail program, and many libraries have eBook databases patrons can access from home. Not sure what to read? The National Hispanic Cultural Center has started a blog with reviews of books by Latinx authors.
  • Practice mindfulness. The science is persuasive: Meditation reduces inflammation and enhances our immune functions; it also helps us focus our attention and feel less controlled by challenging thoughts or feelings. Start small – just a few minutes per day – and consider apps that help guide meditation initially.
  • Go shopping – virtually. This is a great time to support local businesses. If they have an online presence, go shopping or purchase gift cards. You’ll be ahead when gift-giving time comes around, and you could help keep a small business afloat.
  • Get organized. No more excuses: Sort through your junk drawer; organize your kitchen cabinets; alphabetize your spices; untangle and label that pile of electronic cords; clean the garage. Whatever you’ve put off that will make your life easier when this is over, do it now.
  • Practice an old skill. Maybe you haven’t played an instrument in years. Pick it up and see what you remember (provided it won’t bother your neighbors, who are also self-isolating).
  • Learn a new skill. Calligraphy? Sketching? Knitting? Poetry? Origami? This is a great time to try your hand at something new. In addition to fun stuff, consider learning a new language or another skill you could use in your career. Online resources are almost endless whether through a virtual class, online forum, YouTube videos and more.
  • Cook or bake. Whip up something new or make an old favorite. Involve the kids. Fill your home with fragrant scents from spices or baking bread. Perfect grandma’s bolognese recipe.
  • Garden. Although it’s too early to transplant seedlings, March is a great time for these tasks in the garden: plant bare root roses, trees and shrubs; prune roses; cut back ornamental grasses; transplant mislocated plants while still dormant; and prune deciduous trees and summer-flowering bushes.
  • Home school. Even parents who are still working from home can keep their children learning. You don’t have to be an expert or have state-of-the art supplies. Your best will be enough. Identify a space for your home classroom. Establish routines. Focus on core subjects (math, English, for example). The New Mexico Public Education Department has assembled some optional, free academic enrichment opportunities to help.  
  • Fill out your Census form. Aside from self-isolating, this could be the most important thing you can do to help your state and community. An accurate census count ensures everyone gets their fair share of resources and has a political voice. The Census Bureau is mailing invitations to respond between March 12-20. This invitation includes a unique, 14-character personal identification number you need to fill out the form. When you receive your invitation and PIN, please go to the online portal to complete the form — it’s 10 questions, and answering could take as little as 10 minutes. 
  • Complete your tax return. Even though both state and federal filing deadlines have been extended, this is a task you could knock out now. Most people can easily do their own taxes – either by hand or through the Internal Revenue Service’s online free fillable forms. Other options include online tax software programs or mobile apps. If your return is more complicated, make a one-on-one appointment now with your tax preparer.
  • Spring cleaning. Revive the tradition of a really deep cleaning to usher in spring. Ramp up your routine with serious attention to details like lamp shades, switchplates, door handles and frames. A solid spring cleaning improves the air quality of your home and may improve your mood.


  • Read. Read a book. Read the comics. Read a cereal box. Just be sure to keep reading every day. Ask your parents to read to you, and offer to read out loud to them.
  • E-visit a museum. Tour the New Mexico Museum of Art’s collection through its Searchable Art Museum, then check out the museum’s blog, which is being updated twice weekly, to learn more.
  • Be inspired. The Museum of International Folk Art is posting playlists and videos with detailed descriptions of its programs and exhibitions on its YouTube platform
  • Connect with New Mexico’s indigenous culture. The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture has an online curriculum to provide students with an experience that enriches understanding of how indigenous people of New Mexico have worked to build, maintain and sustain their way of life and their distinctive tribal communities.
  • Connect with New Mexico’s Hispanic culture. The National Hispanic Cultural Center’s YouTube channel features interviews with artists, performances, lectures, and fun mashups of footage from a variety of events. Or check out the center’s Google arts and culture page that features a variety of content about the performing arts, the visual arts, the literary arts and history.
  • Be tutored. The New Mexico State Library offers live, online tutoring and homework help in English and Spanish through the BrainFuse platform on El Portal. Also available: quizzes, lessons and standardized tests for all ages. El Portal also includes free access to bilingual learning tools like Kid InfoBits, Academic OneFile, Gale Health and Medicine, Newsbank, Opposing Viewpoints, and a set of unlimited access educational eBooks.
  • Learn about space. The Museum of Space History’s Launch Pad Lectures about stars, planets and galaxies are available on its YouTube channel.
  • Learn about wildlife. The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish has developed an online curriculum with lessons about New Mexico wildlife. Most lessons are adaptable to grades 6-12. Check it out at Wildlife Curriculum.
  • Camp indoors. Push back the furniture and pile up the blankets and pillows. Don’t forget the popcorn and maybe some scary movies.
  • Interview your grandparents. Over the phone, of course. Record it if you can. Make an audio story or book based on what you learn.
  • Have a game tournament. Scrabble. Pictionary. Monopoly. The possibilities are endless. 
  • Memorize something. The Periodic Table. State capitals. A long poem or speech. Memorizing is good for our brains and improves our ability to think and learn.
  • Learn mindfulness. Kids can learn meditation practices just as well as adults, and doing so helps reduce anxiety and increase happiness – which is especially important right now. Here are a few ways to get started.


  • Exercise. Yes, the gyms and health clubs are closed, but thanks to technology, there’s never been an easier time to start an exercise program at home. Try out at-home aerobics or yoga videos. Consider downloading a fitness app with curated workout playlists. Outdoor exercise is good, too: Take a walk. Ride a bike. Go rollerblading. Just be sure to maintain a 6-foot distance from others while outdoors.
  • List what you’re grateful for. Start a gratitude journal or just make a one-time list. Research shows gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness, more positive emotions, improved health and stronger relationships.


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CYFD to Increase the Use of Phone, Video Visits with Children The Department Aims to Help #Flattenthecurve of COVID-19 Infection in New Mexico

For Immediate Release: Melody Wells, Public Information Officer


CYFD Steps Up COVID-19 Precautions Across All Divisions
The Department Aims to Help #Flattenthecurve of COVID-19 Infection in New Mexico

SANTA FE - The State’s Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD), in an advanced precautionary step, will conduct more of its visits for youth via phone or video, the Department said Friday. The move was enacted immediately.

“While we know of no increased danger for children, youth or their families as of today, CYFD is pursing every opportunity possible to safely limit physical contact while maintaining connection,” CYFD Cabinet Secretary Brian Blalock said. “We will be moving to video visits as our primary visitation tool to strengthen our efforts as an agency to ‘flatten the curve.’”

As of Friday, the CYFD Caseworkers’ visits with children and youth in foster care will take place via video conference as often as possible, dependent upon safety concerns and the individual families’ technological capabilities.

Visits for children and youth with their biological families are court-ordered. CYFD is working with courts on a protocol for screening participants for COVID-19 safety concerns prior to scheduling in-person visits. Staff have clear direction on conducting those visits safely using hygiene and social distancing protocols. If it is determined unsafe, due to illness, to visit in person, CYFD will work with the court to arrange video conference visits or to temporarily suspend these visits due to health concerns.

All visits for youth in juvenile justice facilities will be conducted via telephone. The Department is exploring ways to implement video calls for youth in facilities. In-person visitation at juvenile justice facilities has been temporarily suspended. Juvenile Justice staff that provide services in the community are only conducting home visits in very limited circumstances and will move all other communication to video calls and other technology. Visits in other congregate care facilities, such as youth shelters and residential treatment centers, will be conducted via video conference barring any compelling reasons, such as safety concerns.

Beginning Monday, March 23rd, most CYFD offices will be closed to walk-in visitors. In exceptional cases where client visits must take place in offices, those visits will be scheduled with CYFD staff. Staff were instructed to ensure that no two families are in office waiting rooms at the same time. CYFD offices, including lobbies/waiting areas and visitation rooms, are being sanitized and cleaned before and after every visit. Screening for COVID-19 risk factors will occur prior to each visit.

The Agency is also making visits with children who are in care out of state an increased priority. “We’re making sure our staff are visiting more frequently – the goal is at least twice a week - with children who are in care out of state,” Secretary Blalock said. They are working to conduct the first video visits with 100% of children and youth who remain in treatment facilities outside of the state by the end of next week.

For all of the above, CYFD has consulted closely with the New Mexico Department of Health, the Governor’s office, and federal child welfare liaisons and will continue to do so. “Many of these steps are ones that other states (that are further along in the virus’ spread) have taken in recent days,” Secretary Blalock said.

CYFD weighted heavily the input from young people, families, providers and staff members. “We are walking a difficult tightrope with regard to competing priorities - ensuring children and families maintain important and appropriate communication while safeguarding them from both abuse and neglect and the spread of COVID-19,” said Secretary Blalock. “Some of our constituents are asking for more visits and an increased presence in the community due to concerns that some children and youth are more vulnerable to abuse, neglect and domestic violence when schools are closed,” he said. “Some constituents are asking for less. This situation continues to evolve, and we want everyone to know we take their concerns very seriously and discuss them constantly as we continue to reassess the measures we are taking and our mission as an agency.”

“We’re in this with every New Mexican,” Secretary Blalock said. “And as an agency charged with safeguarding our most vulnerable children, youth and families, we’re doing our part in combating this pandemic,” Blalock said. “We also urge everyone in our community to stay at home, sanitize your surfaces, continue to wash your hands and take care of yourselves. Together, we can #flattenthecurve and protect those most vulnerable to this virus.”


Contact: Melody Wells

Immediate Release: PDF

Early Childhood Education and Care Department Announces Free Parentivity Accounts to Support Online Learning During Self-Isolation

For Immediate Release: Matt Bieber, Director of Communications
Early Childhood Education Care Department


SANTA FE - On Thursday, New Mexico Early Childhood Education and Care Secretary Elizabeth Groginsky announced that the state is providing free thirty-day accounts to Parentivity for all parents of New Mexico’s young children.

Parentivity is a web-based system that provides 24/7 customized information for parents of children from birth to age five. Parentivity includes 2-3-minute learning experiences in the form of interactive games, videos, and research-based resources. The system is designed for all families and covers topics such as health and safety, prenatal care, early literacy, nutrition, child care, safe sleep, fatherhood, and much more. Parentivity is accessible on smartphones, tablets, and computers.

“I am pleased to offer this free resource to all families in the state for the next month, as we navigate COVID-19 and economic insecurity,” said Secretary Groginsky. “The Parentivity system provides easy-to-use information to help parents support the health, growth and development of their families.”

New Mexico’s families may obtain their free Parentivity account at



Contact: Matt Bieber

Immediate Release: PDF

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Fact Sheet

By Charlie Moore-Pabst, Deputy Public Information Officer


CYFD has worked with DOH to develop a fact sheet that is meant to be distributed to our clients, partners—anyone you work with who needs information specific to the coronavirus outbreak as it directly relates to New Mexico. This information and more is also available at

Please feel free to share this fact sheet with anyone that might make use of it, make copies of this document and place in common areas (waiting rooms, break rooms, etc.) and anywhere else you feel may be appropriate.

Updates to this fact sheet will be distributed on an as-needed basis. The department is working with DOH to review the latest information every morning and we have a framework for more frequent updates should they become necessary.

If you have any specific questions that are not answered on the fact sheet or at, please reach out to Charlie Moore-Pabst at directly.



FACT SHEET: CORNONAVIRUS (COVID-19), updated 3/19/2020

Previous Fact Sheets:
CORNONAVIRUS (COVID-19), 3/12/2020
CORNONAVIRUS (COVID-19), 3/02/2020

Governor orders agencies to develop child care plan for first responders, key personnel; encourages Medicaid enrollment

For Immediate Release: Matt Bieber, Director of Communications
Early Childhood Education Care Department


Also guarantees health coverage for uninsured early childhood workers diagnosed with COVID-19

SANTA FE - Governor Lujan Grisham on Wednesday announced three measures to safeguard against COVID-19 and strengthen insurance protections for New Mexicans.

Encouraging Medicaid Enrollment

“Right now, 56,000 New Mexicans are uninsured and eligible for Medicaid -- including children who may be eligible even if their parents are not. Even if we weren’t facing a public health emergency, we would want to enroll those folks. Given the current situation, it’s all the more important that we help every New Mexican get insured,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham.

The Governor referred New Mexicans to the Human Services Department’s website to sign up.

The state Human Services Department is also working to take advantage of every federal opportunity to expand New Mexicans’ access to health care. This includes encouraging federal officials to allow New Mexico to provide Medicaid at higher income levels.

Free Treatment Coverage for Child Care Workers Who are Diagnosed with COVID-19

In addition, the governor announced that the state will pay the cost of premiums so that uninsured child care workers who test positive for COVID-19 (and their immediate household members) who are not eligible for other coverage will be able to enroll in the New Mexico Medical Insurance Pool (NMMIP) -- the state’s high-risk pool -- and receive comprehensive health care coverage until they recover. 

“This new rule applies to all child care workers who test positive, along with their immediate household members, regardless of income or immigration status,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham.

NMMIP is chaired by New Mexico’s Superintendent of Insurance; it provides comprehensive health coverage for people who have significant medical conditions, are uninsured, and are not currently eligible for other coverage (such as Medicaid or Medicare). The board of NMMIP held an emergency meeting on March 6 and voted to include COVID-19 as one of its covered conditions, which triggers expedited enrollment. 

NMMIP does charge premiums to enrollees. The state of New Mexico will cover the premium costs for all uninsured child care workers with COVID-19 and their immediate household members who obtain coverage through NMMIP. Under emergency rules issued by the Superintendent of Insurance, deductibles and copayments are waived for treatment of COVID-19, influenza and pneumonia through NMMIP.  

Uninsured New Mexicans who are not eligible for Medicaid or other insurance today may be able to sign up for comprehensive health insurance coverage through NMMIP if they pay their own premiums.  The amount of the premium varies based on age, where in New Mexico you live and whether you are a smoker. More information about NMMIP is available at  

Directing Agencies to Develop Child Care Plan for First Responders and Other Key Personnel 

The governor also instructed the Early Childhood Education and Care Department, Children, Youth, and Families Department, and Department of Public Safety to work with child care providers and ensure that child care services are available to first responders, health care professionals and other essential workers in the fight against COVID-19 - with no income eligibility threshold. Right now, ECECD is surveying key industries involved in this fight to identify precisely who those people are.

“Child care is also an essential and valuable service, but we may need to limit it to those who are working to mitigate and contain the spread and meet New Mexicans’ most urgent needs. Everyone else should be at home. This is how we protect our children, our families, our early childhood workforce, and New Mexico as a whole,” said the governor.


Contact: Matt Bieber

Immediate Release: PDF

Cancelled - due to COVID-19 - Child Protective Services Task Force Meeting, March 19th

For Immediate Release



Executive Meeting

CANCELLED - Thursday, March 19thth, 2020 @6:00 PM to 7:30 PM


Due to COVID-19, the March 19, 2020 Child Protective Services Task Force meeting has been cancelled.

CYFD is following the mandate from the Office of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham to cancel meetings of large groups of people that were scheduled to take place in government buildings. This is intended to prioritize the health concerns for our Task Force Members, members of the public and CYFD staff.

We apologize for the inconvenience. Please stay safe and healthy.

For any questions, please contact Melody Wells at (505) 470-3417, or


New Mexico Expands Child Care Eligibility, Guarantees Payments for Child Care Providers During Public Health Emergency

For Immediate Release: Matt Bieber, Director of Communications
Early Childhood Education Care Department


SANTA FE – In response to Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s March 11 declaration of a public health emergency, the Children, Youth, and Families Department (CYFD) and the Early Childhood Education and Care Department (ECECD) have made a series of temporary changes to New Mexico’s early childhood policies. 

“We recognize that New Mexicans face a range of circumstances and challenges. If you have the flexibility to stay home with your child, we encourage you to do so. If you need child care, we are doing everything in our power to ensure that you have access to healthy and safe care,” said Early Childhood Education and Care Department Secretary Elizabeth Groginsky. “New Mexico is fortunate to have child care providers who are stepping up to support families and we are here to support them.” 

Temporary Changes Affecting Children and Families:

  • Expanding child care for first responders and health providers: During the public health emergency, CYFD will issue  full-time child care assistance contracts to first responders and health providers who need child care.  Please call 1-833-551-0518 to connect with the state’s child care Resource and Referral line or go to to download a child care assistance application. 
  • Enabling family, friends, and neighbors (FFN) to deliver paid child care services: During the emergency health declaration, the state will temporarily register family, friend and neighbor (FFN) providers who may be eligible to receive child care assistance funding; interested parties can call 1-833-551-0518. Temporary FFN providers will be required to complete a background check, as will all family members over the age of 18 living in their home. Temporary FFN providers will also be required to complete a three-hour online health and safety training and an online CPR training.  
  • Expanding child care access for families: The state has a Child Care Resource and Referral line to help families find child care (1-800-691-9067; www.NewMexicoKids.Org). Families can also contact their CYFD eligibility specialist via phone or email to let them know they now need full-time care; our team across the state will amend the contracts. In addition, all parents receiving child care assistance will have their copays waived during the public health emergency. 
  • Protecting CYFD assistance benefits for families: Families who choose to keep their children home during the emergency will not lose their CYFD benefits. If a child care center closes and families need services, they may transfer their child care benefits to an alternative CYFD-approved provider -- and the state will continue paying subsidies to both providers. 
  • Ensuring children have access to meals: The state applied for and received a waiver from the USDA which will allow school and non-school sites to provide meals (breakfast and lunch) to all children under age 18 needing food. Meals are provided “to-go” and must be consumed off-site, following guidelines for social distancing. New Mexicans with questions can call 1-833-551-0518 or email

Temporary Changes Affecting Child Care and Pre-K Providers:

  • Ensuring continuity of payments for providers: While the state is encouraging child care providers to stay open during this emergency, we understand that individual providers will make choices appropriate to their circumstances. If a center chooses to close, child care payments will continue. As a parent or guardian, if you have the flexibility to stay home with your child, we encourage you to do so. If you need child care and yours has closed please call the Resource and Referral Line to see what options are in your community.
  • Paying licensed providers a premium: If a licensed provider chooses to remain open during the public health emergency to support working parents, the state will pay a differential of $250 per child for all children enrolled in child care assistance. The state will also provide waivers to programs licensed at 3 STAR or above who want to open additional sites during this period. Centers may contact their local licensing office for assistance with obtaining a waiver.  
  • Partnering with the Public Education Department to provide child care: If you are a child care provider licensed by CYFD and you utilize a public school building, we encourage you to stay open. Our communities need to work together to support child care as you all are supporting children and families in our state. Programs that need assistance working with local school districts can call 1-833-551-0518. 
  • Expediting background checks to help providers cover staffing shortages: The Department of Public Safety is partnering with CYFD to provide expedited background checks so that child care centers can hire new, temporary employees at child care centers during this the emergency health declaration. New temporary staff will have to complete the online health and safety training at and the state will accept an online CPR certification.  
  • Coordinating food and cleaning supply delivery: The Governor’s office, along with a range of public and private partners, is coordinating food and supply deliveries across the state. Beginning Monday, March 16, child care programs will be able to complete a webform at detailing the food and cleaning supplies they need to serve their children and families. Programs can also email to inform the Early Childhood Education and Care Department about their supply needs. In addition, centers can call 1-833-551-0518 if they need professional cleaning support.
  • Providing daily technical assistance and support: Beginning on Monday, March 16, Early Childhood Education and Care Department Secretary Elizabeth Groginsky will host daily calls with child care providers. (Providers who are not already receiving the invitation can email to be added.) Providers may also call the New Mexico Child Care Resource and Referral line at 1-800-691-9067 or e-mail questions or concerns to Frequent updates will be provided on

“In the face of adversity, early childhood education and care leaders from Farmington to Hobbs are stepping up to ensure that children and families have the support they need during this emergency - and we can’t thank them enough. We are fortunate to have such a committed and supportive early childhood community,” said Early Childhood Education and Care Department Secretary Elizabeth Groginsky.


Immediate Release: PDF

Postponement of Notice Public Rule Hearing


Due to Executive Order 2020-004 Issued by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham

The New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department hereby gives notice as required under Section 14 - 4 - 5.2 NMSA 1978 and NMAC that it proposes to adopt amendments to the following rules regarding CHILDREN, YOUTH AND FAMILIES GENERAL PROVISIONS GOVERNING BACKGROUND CHECKS AND EMPLOYMENT HISTORY VERIFICATION as authorized by Section 9-2A-7 NMSA 1978: NMAC - OBJECTIVE NMAC - COMPLIANCE

No technical scientific information was consulted in drafting these proposed rules.

Purpose of proposed rules:  The purpose of the rules is to amend the background check requirements under 8.8.3 NMAC to comply with federal regulations for applicants required to obtain background checks pursuant to 8.16.2 NMAC and 8.17.2 NMAC.  All prospective and existing staff (hired after October 1, 2016) will be required to obtain an inter-state criminal repository check in states where they resided during the preceding five years.  In addition, language is added in NMAC Compliance to clarify the requirement of both a screen of abuse and neglect (currently listed under NMAC Objective) and an inter-state criminal repository check in each state where the applicant resided during the preceding five years.

Copies of the proposed rules may be found at end of this notice and at CYFD’s website at or may be obtained from the Early Childhood Education Care Department’s Office, 1120 Paseo De Peralta Room 205, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 30 days prior to the Public Hearing.

Notice of public rule hearing:  CYFD is postponing the public rule hearing set for Tuesday, March 17, 2020 at 1:00 p.m. in Apodaca Hall, 1120 Paseo de Peralta, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87502.  The public hearing will be conducted in a fair and equitable manner by a CYFD agency representative or hearing officer and shall be recorded.  Any interested member of the public may attend the hearing and will be provided a reasonable opportunity to offer public comment, either orally or in writing, including presentation of data, views, or arguments, on the proposed rules during the hearing.  Individuals with disabilities who need any form of auxiliary aid to attend or participate in the public hearing are asked to contact Debra Gonzales at  CYFD will make every effort to accommodate all reasonable requests, but cannot guarantee accommodation of a request that is not received at least ten calendar days before the scheduled hearing.

Notice of acceptance of written public comment:  Written public comment, including presentation of data, views, or arguments about the proposed rules, from any interested member of the public, may also be submitted via email to with the subject line “8.8.3 NMAC Public Comment,” via first class mail to P.O. Drawer 5160, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87502 – 5160 or by hand delivery to Kimberly Brown, Child Care Services Bureau, Children, Youth and Families Department.  The comment period ends at the conclusion of the public hearing on March 17, 2020.



Governor signs three child welfare bills

For Immediate Release: Nora Meyers Sackett, Press Secretary,
Office of the Governor


Contact: Nora Meyers Sackett
Press Secretary, Office of the Governor
(505) 690-7313


March 6, 2020


SANTA FE – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Friday signed into law three bills to support New Mexico children and young adults. All three measures passed both the House and Senate unanimously.

“This administration and this Legislature agree that taking care of children, especially our most vulnerable children, is Job No. 1,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said. “Anything the state can do to ease the burden on children in foster care or those aging out of it, we will do.”

  • Senate Bill 130, sponsored by Sen. Linda Lopez, makes it easier for students who have had to change schools because of a change in foster care placement, homelessness, or other reasons outside of the youth's control to still get partial credit for work completed before the transfer;
  • Senate Bill 146, sponsored by Lopez and Rep. Susan Herrera, allows the state to give more support to extended family and kinship caregivers;
  • Senate Bill 168, sponsored by Sens. Michael Padilla and Candace Gould, makes technical fixes to New Mexico’s Extended Foster Care Act, which provides vital support up to age 21 for young people who have been in out-of-home placements.

“These bills will allow us to support children and young people in New Mexico in new and critical ways,” said Brian Blalock, cabinet secretary for the Children, Families and Youth Department. “The well-being of our New Mexico’s children is at the foundation of a strong state. These bills will allow us to meet the needs of some of New Mexico’s most impacted young people by meeting them where they are and creating solutions hand-in-hand with our youth and New Mexico families.”

Senate Bill 130 requires that students who have completed course work prior to transferring to another public school receive credit for that course work, even if a grading period has not occurred.

Young people in the child welfare system experience more moves than their peers, and moves often result in lost credits when they occur outside normal breaks in the school year. As a result, these children have significantly lower graduation rates.

A joint task force established by the state Supreme Court proposed in 2012 that state law be amended to allow for partial credit.

Senate Bill 146 allows CYFD to support more extended family and kinship caregivers.

Currently, half of all kinship guardians caring for children in the CYFD system are not eligible for financial support due to archaic rules established by the federal government in 1996. This bill allows more foster children to safely move from foster care to guardianship while still accessing supports from CYFD.

This bill also allows youth who are formally involved with CYFD to move directly to a subsidized guardianship, thereby avoiding unnecessary removals to foster care.

Senate Bill 168 makes important changes to New Mexico’s extended foster care program, which helps 18- to 21-year-old clients adjust to independence after living in out-of-home placements.

The changes ensure the availability of federal funding for these young people and give the state additional flexibility in administering the best program possible.

Young people who are exiting care need age-appropriate supports and opportunities to succeed in the transition to adulthood. Extended care provides these young people more time to finish school, learn increased responsibility, develop skills to be successful adults and build supportive networks and social capital.



Public Rule Hearing on Child,Youth & Families Governing Background Checks & Employment History Verification Set for Mar. 17



The Children, Youth, and Families Department (CYFD), Early Childhood Services (ECS), will hold a formal public rule hearing on Tuesday, March 17, 2020 at 1:00 p.m. in Apodaca Hall, 1120 Paseo de Peralta, Santa Fe, New Mexico to receive public comments regarding changes to regulation 8.8.3 NMAC Requirements for Children, Youth, and Families General Provisions Governing Background Checks and Employment History Verification.

The proposed regulation changes may be obtained at or may be obtained from the Early Childhood Education Care Department’s Office, 1120 Paseo De Peralta Room 205, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 30 days prior to the Public Hearing. Written comments should be email to with the subject line “8.8.3 NMAC Public Comment,” via first class mail to P.O. Drawer 5160, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87502 – 5160, or by hand delivery to Kimberly Brown, Child Care Services Bureau, Children, Youth and Families Department, by March 17, 2020.

Interested persons may attend the hearing and will be provided a reasonable opportunity to offer public comment on the proposed rules during the hearing. If you are a person with a disability and you require this information in an alternative format or require special accommodations to participate in the public hearing, please contact Debra Gonzales at ECS requests at least 10 calendar days advance to provide requested alternative formats and special accommodations.


El Departamento de Niños, Jóvenes y Familias (CYFD), Servicios de Primera Infancia (ECS), celebrará una audiencia formal de gobierno público el martes 17 de marzo de 2020 a la 1:00 p.m. en apodaca Hall, 1120 Paseo de Peralta, Santa Fe, Nuevo México para recibir comentarios públicos sobre cambios en el Reglamento 8.8.3 Requisitos de la NMAC para Niños, Jóvenes y Familias Disposiciones Generales que rigen las Verificaciones de Antecedentes y Verificación de la Historia del Empleo.

Los cambios de reglamento propuestos pueden obtenerse en o puede obtenerse de la Oficina del Departamento de Cuidado de Educación Infantil, 1120 Paseo De Peralta Room 205, Santa Fe, Nuevo México, 30 días antes de la Audiencia Pública. Los comentarios escritos deben ser con el asunto "8.8.3 NMAC Public Comment", por correo de primera clase al Cajón 5160, Santa Fe, Nuevo México 87502 – 5160, o por entrega manual a Kimberly Brown, Child Care Services Bureau, Children, Youth and Families Department, antes del 17 de marzo de 2020.

Las personas interesadas pueden asistir a la audiencia y se les dará una oportunidad razonable para ofrecer comentarios públicos sobre las reglas propuestas durante la audiencia. Si usted es una persona con una discapacidad y necesita esta información en un formato alternativo o requiere adaptaciones especiales para participar en la audiencia pública, comuníquese con Debra Gonzales al ECS solicita al menos 10 días naturales de antelación para proporcionar formatos alternativos solicitados y adaptaciones especiales.

Joint Statement from Concerned Legislators and CYFD Regarding Open Meetings Act and CYFD Task Force

By Rep. Gallegos, et. al.


All involved parties thank the Attorney General for providing quick clarification that the Child Protective Services Task Force is not subject to the state’s Open Meetings Act because of its advisory-only nature.

Leadership with the Children, Youth & Families Department met with Representatives Dow, Fajardo and Gallegos within hours of those lawmakers’ public request that the Attorney General’s Office intervene.

In that meeting, the Department showed that it had been making task force meetings as publicly accessible as appropriate: There is time for public comment during public meetings; comments are always accepted via email or postal mail; the one closed session so far has had a public listening session—with plans for that to continue for any future executive session; public meetings are being webcast; and the more than two dozen members of the Child Protective Services Task Force will soon be trained to go to their communities and gather public input.

“CYFD just held a similar public input and strategic planning session in my district in Hobbs,” said Representative David Gallegos (R-Eunice). “At that meeting, CYFD received genuine feedback and participation from foster parents, and I apologize for implying the Department was not following state law in conducting this legislative task force. I am glad the Department is committed to getting public input from all over the state.”

“Transparency in our processes— what we do to protect our children— is vital to the continued reforms taking place inside CYFD. We are committed to finding real solutions with the HJM-10 task force, and we will involve the public as much as possible,” CYFD Secretary Brian Blalock said.

State Representative Rebecca Dow (R - Truth or Consequences) said of the department’s efforts, “I'm encouraged to see the Department express commitment to engaging foster parents. CYFD can rebuild trust in their provider network through transparency and accountability.”

The next Child Protective Services task force meeting on February 27 will be an executive session based on a near-unanimous vote at the last meeting to finish out the executive agenda. Please contact for information on joining the public listening session for this meeting. The Task Force’s next public meeting is currently scheduled for March 19 in Albuquerque.


Attachment: Attorney General's Opinion

Big Plans for Increased Transparency & Accountability from CYFD

By Melody Wells, Public Information Officer


ALBUQUERQUE – The State’s Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD) has big plans for increasing its transparency and accountability to the community.

At the top of the list: increasing funding to the Substitute Care Advisory Council (SCAC), which currently operates in an ombudsman-like role with the Department. Along with more funding, CYFD is considering options for supporting its increased independence by moving it to a new place within state government where SCAC could have a broader reach, promote better coordination and oversight of multiple child-serving agencies and be most effective at providing oversight and implementing needed changes. CYFD plans to provide more data to the SCAC so that they can have more information for exploring the Department’s operations and outcomes respective to goals.

And that’s just the beginning of a series of changes that Cabinet Secretary Brian Blalock and the CYFD Leadership plan to make CYFD more transparent and accountable.

CYFD is creating an Office of Children’s Rights that will advocate on behalf of children and youth in care, especially with regard to educational and disability rights. Right now, much of the work that CYFD’s Office of the General Counsel does is supporting children, youth, families, and foster care providers in successfully accessing each child’s federally protected educational and disability rights, and we see a need for a dedicated team to do this work. The Office of Children’s Rights would have staff specialized in educational rights, disability rights, and constituent affairs, also making it a place where grievances from children in care, foster care providers, and other community members can be heard and responded to.

Right now, CYFD is engaged in a process of evaluating how CYFD can best support foster care providers, especially foster parents and families. CYFD currently convenes meetings of the Child Protective Services Task Force, better known as the HJM-10 Task Force, a group of individuals with expertise in various fields that relate to child welfare who are working to develop recommendations for how the agency can better support foster care providers. The HJM-10 Task Force was created during the 2019 Legislative Session with the passing of the House Joint Memorial 10, sponsored by Representative Rebecca Dow (R.), Representative Kelly Fajardo (R.), Representative Patricio Ruiloba (D), and Representative Gail Armstrong (R). On the Task Force are several current and former foster and adoptive parents from throughout the State who also have expertise in the areas of education, social work, the medical field, LGBTQ2AI concerns and other areas relevant to children in care. The HJM-10 Task Force keeps CYFD in continued conversations with foster parents who have their fingers on the pulse of how foster parents really feel about us, and we’re grateful for all of their feedback.

On the Task Force there are also young people who were formerly in foster care, and they are letting CYFD know what is going right and ways they can improve. Making space for the children and youth in care to have their voices heard, their opinions fully considered and to really take up space is one of CYFD’s preeminent goals.

To that end, the agency supported young people in developing a Youth Grievance Process that has been very well utilized and received by youth. The Youth Grievance Process stands out as an accountability measure that was created in the right way — by the people who are going to use it — and we’re looking to base a new Foster Care Provider Grievance Process on the one created by youth in the next year.

A Foster Care Provider Grievance Process would provide objective reviews of concerns and complaints from providers in the community, including foster parents, biological parents, relatives of children, and treatment foster care providers. The objective reviewer would be able to request a more thorough review from a Supervisor or other individual who is outside the chain of command for the case in question and may also refer the complaint to higher bodies such as the SCAC or the Office of Children’s Rights.

It’s time that we make sure that the children and youth we serve, the foster care providers we partner with, and the general public know more about the incredibly hard work our staff do each day do to keep children safe and to strengthen families.

This Administration is 100% committed to making sure that the public, the taxpayer, and all of our stakeholders and partners in keeping children and youth safe remain aware of our work, our successes and also our challenges. As a government agency, the public’s involvement in oversight and expectation of accountability are crucial elements of ensuring we stay on the right path for kids.




Child Protective Services Task Force Meeting, February 27th

For Immediate Release



Executive Meeting

Thursday, February 27th, 2020 @6:00 PM to 7:30 PM


The 3rd meeting of the Child Protective Services Task Force meeting will take place February 27, 2020 in Santa Fe.

A Listening Session for Members of the Public will take place in tandem with the Task Force’s Executive Working Session. Please email Public Information Officer Melody Wells – – for the location of the Public Listening Session.

The purpose of this meeting is to provide training and information to Task Force Members in order to support the work. This meeting was voted to be an Executive Meeting by a majority of the Task Force Members at the December Task Force Meeting.

Members of the public are invited to provide comment in writing by emailing at any time.

If you would like to request a language interpretation services or if you are a person with a disability and you require information provided in an alternate format such as large print, American Sign Language or other reasonable accommodation to participate in the public hearing, please contact Melody Wells at CYFD requests at least three (3) business days in advance to provide requested alternate formats, reasonable accommodations and language access requests.


CYFD Revela Cambios a las Regulaciones de cuidado temporal que alinean con la ley federal

Para la liberación inmediata: Charlie Moore-Pabst, Oficial Adjunto de Información Pública


Los cambios ayudarán a la familia y a los "parientes ficticios" de los niños que entran al cuidado temporal para que puedan ser padres de crianza temporal con licencia


ALBUQUERQUE – CYFD revela que se han actualizado las regulaciones para la licencia de proveedores de cuidado de crianza temporal en el estado. Las actualizaciones están diseñadas para servir mejor a los niños que han sufrido abuso o negligencia al ayudar a los miembros de la familia extendida de esos niños a ser proveedores de cuidado de crianza temporal con licencia de una manera eficaz.

Al dar puntualmente licencia de cuidado temporal a un familiar de niños que están en custodia tiene el efecto de reducir el número de cambios de hogares para los niños, asegura más estabilidad social y ayuda a facilitar las relaciones entre hermanos y padres mientras los niños están en el cuidado del estado. Crucialmente, al dar licencia al pariente ficticio asegura que ellos puedan recibir apoyos y servicios vitales disponibles para ellos por parte del estado de Nuevo México para ofrecer el mejor cuidado posible para los familiares pequeños.

“Estamos removiendo barreras innecesarias que nos han impedido colocar inmediatamente los niños con familiares, especialmente los que los niños ya conocen y aman,” comentó el Secretario del Gabinete Brian Blalock. “Cuando los niños entran en custodia, ellos ya experimentaron trauma. Colocándolos con extraños puede ser un trauma adicional - Una experiencia infantil adversa adicional (ACE por sus siglas en inglés) – que podemos evitar cuando la colocación de parentesco es una prioridad.”

Los estudios indican que los niños y jóvenes que han sufrido de abuso o negligencia y son colocados en custodia temporal prosperan en varias áreas incluyendo reduciendo el tiempo que están en el sistema, educación y el bienestar mental y de comportamiento, si los niños están con un familiar o “pariente ficticio”. “Nadie quiere estar sin familia” comento Joseph García, presidente de LUVYANM (por sus siglas en inglés), un grupo de defensa echo por y para los jóvenes que han vivido el cuidado temporal. "Sin tu familia, pierdes una sensación de seguridad y amor, y te hace cuestionarte a ti mismo. Nos sentimos avergonzados por lo que pasó y no nos gusta cargar con eso. Cuando finalmente llegué con un pariente, era mucho más fácil para mí sentir y entender mis sentimientos. Finalmente pude lidiar con mis sentimientos [de estar lejos de mis padres] de una manera saludable porque tenía la comodidad de estar en casa de mi abuela.”

El abuelo de Joseph agrego, “Se toma una comunidad entera para criar a un niño pero muchas veces los padres no dejan que la comunidad les ayude. Como abuelo, tal vez quieres ayudar a tus propios hijos para ser padres diferentes, pero es difícil decirles como criar sus hijos, y tu influencia es limitada (a menos que el sistema se involucre).”

La esperanza es que se fortalezcan los sistemas familiares enteros a largo plazo con los apoyos que CYFD planea ofrecerles a los proveedores de parientes ficticios.

Las actualizaciones incluyen disposiciones para las licencias de cuidado temporal de personas que son indocumentadas como proveedores de cuidado temporal. “Estamos muy orgullosos de estas disposiciones porque se reconocen las circunstancias culturales y únicas de Nuevo México, y el compromiso inquebrantable del estado de apoyar a los solicitantes de asilo y a los refugiados, muchos de los cuales son niños," dijo la directora de inmigración de CYFD Megan Finno-Velasquez. "La mayoría de estos familiares han sido un apoyo informal para estos niños durante años, si no décadas.  Este cambio de reglamentos nos ayuda a formalizar esa relación para apoyar mejor a nuestros niños y quien los cuide."

Aunque no están escritos en las regulaciones, los procedimientos de CYFD siempre incluyen provisiones de emergencia, incluyendo proveedores adicionales de cuidado de crianza en caso de que un familiar no esté disponible debido a cualquier circunstancia. En Nuevo México, 1 de cada 11 niños viven con al menos un familiar que es indocumentado, según el Consejo Americano de Inmigración1. Eliminar las barreras a las personas que son indocumentadas como proveedores de cuidado de crianza para niños que han sufrido abuso o negligencia es la decisión correcta y además contamos con el apoyo de la Asociación Americana de Abogados, con la que CYFD trabajó en la redacción de las regulaciones actualizadas.

“En todo el país, los sistemas de bienestar infantil están cambiando para priorizar la colocación de parentesco, porque la investigación muestra constantemente que los niños y los jóvenes prosperan de muchas maneras cuando se colocan con familiares o "parientes ficticios", personas que ya conocen", dijo Heidi Redlich Epstein, JD, MSW, Fiscal Superior del Estado Mayor y Directora de American Bar Association’s Center on Children and the Law. “Las regulaciones actualizadas de Nuevo México son algunas de las más diligentes que he visto en el país en cuanto a seguir la Primera Ley de Familias Federales (Federal Families First Act)  para asegurar que puedan colocar a los niños con parientes.”

American Immigration Council analysis of data from the 2010-2014 ACS 5-Year, using Silva Mathema’s “State-by-State Estimates of the Family Members of Unauthorized Immigrants” and IPUMS-USA. Steven Ruggles, Katie Genadek, Ronald Goeken, Josiah Grover, and Matthew Sobek, Integrated Public Use Microdata Series: Version 7.0 [dataset] (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, 2017).

Otras actualizaciones que CYFD ha añadido a sus regulaciones incluyen:

  • Asegurar que los procesos estén en pie para realizar las verificaciones de antecedentes requeridas para todos los parientes, incluyendo los parientes indocumentados, utilizando métodos accesibles, apropiados y precisos para hacerlo;
  • Aclarar el proceso de evaluación de los antecedentes criminales que no se relacionan con el abuso infantil para los posibles proveedores de cuidado de crianza temporal, que va más allá de los requisitos federales relacionados con la historia penal mediante el establecimiento de protocolos adicionales para la evaluación de delitos que no son descalificadores automáticos;
  • Siguiendo las pautas federales, limitando el número de niños de crianza que pueden estar en cualquier hogar de seis (6) (hasta 8 niños en total) con excepciones para los grupos de hermanos, jóvenes adolescentes que son padres y otros.

CYFD trabajó en colaboración con la Asociación Americana de Abogados en la realización de las actualizaciones, que se alinean con la ley federal y las mejores prácticas reconocidas a nivel nacional, manteniendo al mismo tiempo elementos importantes que son exclusivos de la cultura de Nuevo México y el estatus de estado fronterizo. En total, estas actualizaciones actualizan el sistema de bienestar infantil de Nuevo México con lo que se ha demostrado que funciona mejor para los niños.

Información, estadísticas y referencias de investigación sobre los beneficios de la atención de parentesco para niños y jóvenes en cuidado temporal:

Los niños en cuidado de crianza temporal que viven con familiares experimentan menos cambios de colocación2, menos cambios escolares3 y mejores resultados de comportamiento y salud mental4 que los niños colocados con familias que no tienen parentesco.

Los niños en colocaciones de parentesco alcanzan niveles más altos de permanencia que los niños en hogares sin parentesco, incluyendo una menor probabilidad de volver a entrar en el sistema de cuidado de crianza temporal después de regresar a sus padres biológicos5 y el aumento de las adopciones (32% de niños en custodia son adoptados por familiares)6.

Hay más probabilidad que los niños en custodia temporal que viven con familiares continúen la conexión entre hermanos, hermanas, familiares y la comunidad 7 y retener la conexión de la identidad cultural8.

Further reading:

  1. Promover la equidad en Nuevo México, Nueva México Voces para la Infancia,
  2. Fuller, T. et al. Condiciones de los niños en o en riesgo de cuidado de crianza en Illinois 2013 Informe de monitoreo del Decreto de Consentimiento B.H., 2015. Publicado por la Escuela de Trabajo Social de la Universidad de Investigación Infantil y Familiar de illinois.
  3. Instituto de Adopción Evan B. Donaldson. Nunca demasiado viejo: Lograr la permanencia y el mantenimiento de las conexiones para los jóvenes mayores en el cuidado de crianza, 2011 de julio.
  4. Ahrens, K. R., et al. “Exploración cualitativa de las relaciones con adultos no parentales importantes en la vida de los jóvenes en el cuidado de crianza.” Revisión de servicios para niños y jóvenes, 33, 2011, 1012–1023.


Liberación inmediata: PDF

1 American Immigration Council analysis of data from the 2010-2014 ACS 5-Year, using Silva Mathema’s “State-by-State Estimates of the Family Members of Unauthorized Immigrants” and IPUMS-USA. Steven Ruggles, Katie Genadek, Ronald Goeken, Josiah Grover, and Matthew Sobek, Integrated Public Use Microdata Series: Version 7.0 [dataset] (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, 2017).
2 Helton, J. (2011). Children with behavioral, non‐behavioral, and multiple disabilities, and the risk of out‐of‐home placement disruption. Child Abuse & Neglect 35, 956‐964.
Testa M., Bruhn C., & Helton J. (2010). Comparative safety, stability, and continuity of children’s placements in formal and informal substitute care. In M.B. Webb, K. Dowd, B.J. Harden, J. Landsverk, & M.F. Testa (Eds.). Child Welfare and Child Well-being: New Perspectives from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (pp. 159-191). New York: Oxford University Press. Zinn, A., DeCoursey, J., Goerge, R.M., & Courtney, M.E. (2006). A study of placement stability in Illinois. Chapin Hall. Retrieved from
Chamberlain, P., et al. (2006). Who disrupts from placement in foster and kinship care? Child Abuse & Neglect 30, 409–424. Retrieved from
Testa, M. (2001). Kinship care and permanency. Journal of Social Service Research 28(1), 25–43.
3 U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Administration for Children & Families. (2005). National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW) CPS Sample Component Wave 1 Data Analysis Report, April 2005. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Administration for Children & Families. Retrieved from
4 Garcia, A., et al. (2014). The influence of caregiver depression on children in non‐relative foster care versus kinship care placements. Maternal and Child Health Journal 19(3), 459-467. Cheung, C., Goodman, D., Leckie, G., & Jenkins, J.M. (2011). Understanding contextual effects on externalizing behaviors in children in out‐of‐home care: Influence of workers and foster families. Children and Youth Services Review 33, 2050‐2060. Fechter‐Leggett, M.O., & O’Brien, K. (2010). The effects of kinship care on adult mental health outcomes of alumni of foster care. Children and Youth Services Review 32, 206‐213. Winokur, M., Holtan, A., & Valentine, D. (2009). Kinship care for the safety, permanency, and well-being of children removed from the home for maltreatment. Campbell Systematic Reviews 1. Retrieved from Rubin, D.M., et al. (2008). Impact of kinship care on behavioral well‐being for children in out‐of-home care. Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine 162(6), 550‐556. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Administration for Children & Families. NSCAW.
5 Falconnier, L.A., et al. (2010). Indicators of quality in kinship foster care. Child Welfare and Placement 91(4).
6 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau. (2015). The AFCARS report: Preliminary FY 2014 estimates as of July 2015 (No. 22). Retrieved from Testa, M. & Shook, K., Cohen, L., & Woods, M. (1996). Permanency planning options for children in formal kinship care. Child Welfare 75(5).
7 Rolock, N. & Testa, M. (2006). Conditions of children in or at risk of foster care in Illinois. Urbana, IL, Children and Family Research Center. Retrieved from
_ConditionsOfChildrenInOrAtRiskOfFosterCareInIllinois2013MonitoringReportOfTheB.H.ConsentDecree.pdf Wulczyn, F. & Zimmerman, E. (2005). Sibling placements in longitudinal perspective. Children and Youth Services Review 27, 741-763. Shlonsky, A., Webster, D., & Needell, B. (2003). The ties that bind: A cross-sectional analysis of siblings in foster care. Journal of Social Service Research 29(3), 27-52.
8 Broskoff, A., Harder-Mehl, C., Johnson, S., Munsterman, L., & Wojciak, L. (2006). Minnesota safety, permanency and well-being performance update. Minnesota Department of Human Services. Retrieved from Casey Family Programs. (2004) Commitment to kin: elements of a support and service system for kinship care. Seattle, WA: Casey Family Programs.


CYFD Unveils Foster Care Regulation Changes that Align with Federal Law

For Immediate Release: Charlie Moore-Pabst, Deputy Public Information Officer


The Changes Will Help Family and "Fictive Kin" of Children Taken into Care
to Become Licensed Foster Care Providers


ALBUQUERQUE – CYFD unveiled updated regulations for licensing foster care providers in the State. The updates are designed to better serve children who have experienced abuse or neglect by helping those children’s extended family members become licensed foster care providers for them in a timely manner.

Licensing family members as care providers promptly when children come into care has the effect of reducing the number of placement moves for children, ensuring more social stability and helping facilitate continuity of sibling and parental relationships while children are in care. Crucially, licensing kinship care providers ensures that they can receive vital supports and services available to them from the State of New Mexico to provide the best possible care for their young family members.

“We’re removing unnecessary barriers that have prevented us from immediately placing children with family members, especially those who they already know and love,” said Cabinet Secretary Brian Blalock. “When children come into foster care, they have already experienced trauma. Being placed with strangers can be an additional trauma – an additional Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) - that we can avoid when kinship placement is a priority.”

Research shows that children and youth who have experienced abuse or neglect and are placed in foster care do better across several measures, including time to permanency, educational outcomes and mental/behavioral wellness, if they remain with family or “fictive kin” during their time in out-of-home placement. “No one wants to be without their family,” said Joseph Garcia, who serves as the President of LUVYANM, an advocacy group by and for young people who have experienced foster care. “Without your family, you lose a sense of security and love, and it makes you question yourself. We feel ashamed because of what happened and we don’t like carrying that around with us. When I finally got to a relative, it was a lot easier for me to feel and work through the emotions that I was feeling and to and to grieve [being away from my parents] in a healthy way because I had that comfort zone of being at my grandmother’s house.”

Joseph’s Grandfather added, “It takes a village to raise a child but sometimes parents won’t allow the village in. As a Grandparent, you may want to help your own children parent differently, but it’s hard to tell them how to raise their children, and your influence is limited [unless the system gets involved].”

With the enhanced supports CYFD plans to provide to these kinship care providers, the hope is entire family systems will be strengthened for the long term.

The updates include provisions for licensing people who are undocumented as foster care providers. “We’re very proud of this provision because it acknowledges New Mexico’s unique social and cultural circumstances and the State’s unwavering commitment to supporting asylum seekers and refugees, many of whom are children,” said CYFD’s Immigration Director Megan Finno-Velasquez.  “Most of these relatives have been an informal support to these children for years – if not decades.  This change in policy helps us formalize that relationship to better support both our children and their caregivers.”

 While not written into the regulations, CYFD’s procedures always include emergency contingencies including back-up foster care providers in the event that a caregiver is not available due to any circumstance. In New Mexico, 1 in 11 children live with at least one relative who is undocumented, according to the American Immigration Council1. Removing barriers to licensing people who are undocumented as foster care providers for children who have experienced abuse or neglect is the right move and has the support of the American Bar Association, which CYFD worked with in drafting the updated regulations.

“Across the country, child welfare systems are shifting to prioritize kinship care, because research consistently shows children and youth do better in both the short- and long-term if they are placed with relatives or ‘fictive kin’ – people they already know,” said Heidi Redlich Epstein, JD, MSW, Senior Staff Attorney and Director of Kinship Policy for the American Bar Association’s Center on Children and the Law. “New Mexico’s updated regulations are some of the most diligent I’ve seen in the country as far as following the Federal Families First Act to ensure that they can place children with relatives.”

American Immigration Council analysis of data from the 2010-2014 ACS 5-Year, using Silva Mathema’s “State-by-State Estimates of the Family Members of Unauthorized Immigrants” and IPUMS-USA. Steven Ruggles, Katie Genadek, Ronald Goeken, Josiah Grover, and Matthew Sobek, Integrated Public Use Microdata Series: Version 7.0 [dataset] (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, 2017).

Other updates that CYFD has added to its regulations include:

  • Ensuring that processes are in place for performing the required background checks for all caregivers – including undocumented caregivers – using accessible, appropriate and accurate methods for doing so;
  • Clarifying the process for assessment of non-child-abuse-related criminal histories for prospective foster care providers, which goes further than federal requirements related to criminal history by setting additional protocols for evaluation of crimes that are not automatic disqualifiers;
  • Following Federal guidelines, limiting the number of foster children that can be in any one home to six (6) (up to 8 children, total) with exceptions for sibling groups, teenaged youth who are parenting, and others.

CYFD worked closely with the American Bar Association in making the updates, which align with Federal law and nationally recognized best practices while maintaining important elements that are unique to New Mexico’s culture and border state status. All told, these updates bring New Mexico’s child welfare system up to date with what has been shown to work better for children.

Information, statistics and research references about the benefits of kinship care for children and youth in foster care:

Children in kinship foster care experience fewer placement changes2, fewer school changes3 and better behavioral and mental health outcomes4 than children in non-relative foster care placements.

Children in kinship placements achieve higher levels of permanency than children in non-relative foster care placements, including reduced likelihood of reentering the foster care system after returning to their birth parents5 and increased adoptions (32% of children adopted from foster care are adopted by relatives)6.

Children living with kinship foster care providers are more likely to keep their connections to brothers, sisters, extended family and community7 and retain greater connection to their cultural identities8.

Further reading:

  1. Advancing Equity in New Mexico, New Mexico Voices for Children,
  2. Fuller, T. et al. Conditions of Children in or at Risk of Foster Care in Illinois 2013 Monitoring Report of the B.H. Consent Decree, 2015. Published by the Children and Family Research Center University of Illinois School of Social Work.
  3. Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute. Never Too Old: Achieving Permanency and Sustaining Connections for Older Youth in Foster Care, July 2011.
  4. Ahrens, K. R., et al. “Qualitative Exploration of Relationships with Important Nonparental Adults in the Lives of Youth in Foster Care.” Children and Youth Services Review, 33, 2011, 1012–1023.


Immediate Release: PDF

1 American Immigration Council analysis of data from the 2010-2014 ACS 5-Year, using Silva Mathema’s “State-by-State Estimates of the Family Members of Unauthorized Immigrants” and IPUMS-USA. Steven Ruggles, Katie Genadek, Ronald Goeken, Josiah Grover, and Matthew Sobek, Integrated Public Use Microdata Series: Version 7.0 [dataset] (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, 2017).
2 Helton, J. (2011). Children with behavioral, non‐behavioral, and multiple disabilities, and the risk of out‐of‐home placement disruption. Child Abuse & Neglect 35, 956‐964.
Testa M., Bruhn C., & Helton J. (2010). Comparative safety, stability, and continuity of children’s placements in formal and informal substitute care. In M.B. Webb, K. Dowd, B.J. Harden, J. Landsverk, & M.F. Testa (Eds.). Child Welfare and Child Well-being: New Perspectives from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (pp. 159-191). New York: Oxford University Press. Zinn, A., DeCoursey, J., Goerge, R.M., & Courtney, M.E. (2006). A study of placement stability in Illinois. Chapin Hall. Retrieved from
Chamberlain, P., et al. (2006). Who disrupts from placement in foster and kinship care? Child Abuse & Neglect 30, 409–424. Retrieved from
Testa, M. (2001). Kinship care and permanency. Journal of Social Service Research 28(1), 25–43.
3 U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Administration for Children & Families. (2005). National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW) CPS Sample Component Wave 1 Data Analysis Report, April 2005. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Administration for Children & Families. Retrieved from
4 Garcia, A., et al. (2014). The influence of caregiver depression on children in non‐relative foster care versus kinship care placements. Maternal and Child Health Journal 19(3), 459-467. Cheung, C., Goodman, D., Leckie, G., & Jenkins, J.M. (2011). Understanding contextual effects on externalizing behaviors in children in out‐of‐home care: Influence of workers and foster families. Children and Youth Services Review 33, 2050‐2060. Fechter‐Leggett, M.O., & O’Brien, K. (2010). The effects of kinship care on adult mental health outcomes of alumni of foster care. Children and Youth Services Review 32, 206‐213. Winokur, M., Holtan, A., & Valentine, D. (2009). Kinship care for the safety, permanency, and well-being of children removed from the home for maltreatment. Campbell Systematic Reviews 1. Retrieved from Rubin, D.M., et al. (2008). Impact of kinship care on behavioral well‐being for children in out‐of-home care. Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine 162(6), 550‐556. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Administration for Children & Families. NSCAW.
5 Falconnier, L.A., et al. (2010). Indicators of quality in kinship foster care. Child Welfare and Placement 91(4).
6 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau. (2015). The AFCARS report: Preliminary FY 2014 estimates as of July 2015 (No. 22). Retrieved from Testa, M. & Shook, K., Cohen, L., & Woods, M. (1996). Permanency planning options for children in formal kinship care. Child Welfare 75(5).
7 Rolock, N. & Testa, M. (2006). Conditions of children in or at risk of foster care in Illinois. Urbana, IL, Children and Family Research Center. Retrieved from
_ConditionsOfChildrenInOrAtRiskOfFosterCareInIllinois2013MonitoringReportOfTheB.H.ConsentDecree.pdf Wulczyn, F. & Zimmerman, E. (2005). Sibling placements in longitudinal perspective. Children and Youth Services Review 27, 741-763. Shlonsky, A., Webster, D., & Needell, B. (2003). The ties that bind: A cross-sectional analysis of siblings in foster care. Journal of Social Service Research 29(3), 27-52.
8 Broskoff, A., Harder-Mehl, C., Johnson, S., Munsterman, L., & Wojciak, L. (2006). Minnesota safety, permanency and well-being performance update. Minnesota Department of Human Services. Retrieved from Casey Family Programs. (2004) Commitment to kin: elements of a support and service system for kinship care. Seattle, WA: Casey Family Programs.


Over View: Early childhood education is more than day care

By Santa Fe New Mexican


SANAT FE, N.M. — Anyone who thinks expanding early childhood education in New Mexico has been or will be an easy task is delusional.

Look at this recent quotation from Sen. Bill Sharer: “When you put the kid in day care all day long and then send them home to go to sleep, they’re not learning anything about family. … They’re like cattle. You shove them along, you feed them and then you slaughter them.”

The Farmington Republican was responding to the governor’s early childhood proposals, a focus of this short legislative session.

It should go without saying that early childhood education is more than warehousing children.

And families who cannot support themselves on one income depend on both day care and early childhood schooling to keep their children safe, engaged and learning as parents go off to earn a living.

The days of mom home all day with Joey and Sue vanished long ago. For many lower-income families, they never existed. Mom was cleaning houses or waiting tables while dad also worked. Children were passed around to grandmas or relatives or left home alone. No one was comfortable, but feeding the family came first.

Having affordable, reliable and safe child care ensures parents can work — both for necessity and fulfillment — and children receive the attention, discipline and affection they deserve. It’s peace of mind now and a stronger society later.

That’s because with excellent early learning, children — even the most disadvantaged — receive the support they need to start school ready to excel.

Early childhood education is more than day care. It should be an age-appropriate approach to learning. Dynamic classrooms feature sand play, blocks, paints and those tools of learning that grab a child’s attention. Play, after all, is how young children learn.

Expert teachers guide the children — although kids should be leading much of what happens — into activities that bolster readiness to read and learn mathematics

Meanwhile, mom and dad can work without worrying whether the babysitter will use the television to calm the children or if their kids will get outside to play and run.

When the family comes together after work and school, the children aren’t sent straight to sleep. No, the family can eat dinner together, read stories and otherwise engage about the day. Weekends are times for long stretches of family togetherness. There’s plenty of opportunity for family sharing even when children aren’t cared for by a parent during the day.

Sharer’s comment is insulting on other levels. Children in classrooms are not cattle. They aren’t being shoved. Yes, they are being fed, and we hope all lunches are as inviting as the ones served through United Way of Santa Fe’s Early Learning Center at Kaune. But there’s no slaughter at the end of the experience, and for Sharer to state otherwise, even for exaggerated emphasis, is offensive.

Early learning supplements the home while supporting parents and families. And it has been shown in other states and countries to help children be ready for formal education. It also is voluntary, so parents who prefer to keep children at home can do so, something skeptics should keep in mind.

As New Mexico works to reform its educational system, early childhood education is key to a successful transformation. The stumbling block for years was how to pay for it.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has switched the debate from whether the state should use its Land Grant Permanent Fund to pay for expansion of early childhood education. Instead, the Legislature is talking about establishing a stand-alone early childhood education fund — the Early Childhood Education and Care Fund — using $320 million in a one-time appropriation and proceeds from other sources when necessary. This would provide $20 million the first year to grow programs.

Other proposals this session included expanded funding for the early childhood education department and money to support early childhood education workers. It is evident New Mexico is sincere about improving early childhood for the kids of this state.

Now, how to persuade skeptics? Considering there have been philosophical reasons to oppose expansion as well as worries about the budget in the past, persuasion is complicated. That’s why expansion of early childhood education has always been a tough fight. This year is no exception.

Source: Santa Fe New Mexican

Cancelled - Child Protective Services Task Force Meeting, Jan. 16th

For Immediate Release



Executive Meeting

CANCELLED - Thursday, January 16th, 2020 @6:00 PM to 7:30 PM


Due to the inclement weather in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and the I-25 corridor, tonight’s (1/16/20) Child Protective Services Task Force meeting has been cancelled.

Tonight’s agenda will be moved to the next meeting, scheduled for February 27, 2020 in Santa Fe. More details will follow.

The department apologizes for any inconvenience, but safety concerns for our Task Force members and staff are our utmost priority especially with the possibility of major travel delays on I-25.

Thank you and stay safe out there!


Child Protective Services Task Force Meeting, Dec. 19th

For Immediate Release



Executive Meeting

Thursday, December 19, 2019 @6:00 PM to 7:30 PM


The HJM-10 Task Force will have its 2nd meeting on Thursday, December 19, 2019.

This meeting will be an Executive Session for Task Force Members, focusing on internal education, strategy and planning for deliverables. We will review topics that arise out of the first Launch Meeting and identify projects moving forward.

Future meetings will be open to members of the public.


New Mexico Military Institute toy drive benefits local CYFD

By Roswell Daily Record


New Mexico Military Institute toy drive benefits CYFD












The New Mexico Military Institute Alumni Office holds a toy drive for Roswell CYFD (Children, Youth & Families Department). Local NMMI alumni and alumni office staff participated in this year’s toy drive. Pictured along with some of the toys collected are, from left, Ben Manatt, Jovannah Yslas, Rebecca Gonzalez, Crystal Gonzales and Karen Yerby, all with NMMI; and Matthew Rael, Cande Sarellano, Irene Chavez-Gonzales and Yvonne Leible, all with CYFD. (Submitted Photo)

Source: Roswell Daily Record

Child Protective Services Task Force Public Meeting

For Immediate Release



Public Meeting

Thursday, November 21, 2019 @6:00 PM

NEW LOCATION: Children, Youth & Families Department's Pinetree Office

4501 Indian School Road NE, Albuquerque, NM 87110

Web Conference:  or

Call +1 (312) 757-3121, Access Code: 395-529-349


  1. Call to order
  2. Welcome
  3. Task Force Objectives (presentation)
  4. Next meeting - December 19, 2019
  5. Public comment
  6. Adjourn

Interested individuals may submit public comments in writing at the public meeting and/or submit written comments to, or by regular mail at Attn: Child Protective Services Task Force, CYFD, P.O. Drawer 5160, Santa Fe, NM 87502.

Any person with a disability who is in need of a Spanish language translator, reader, amplifier, qualified American Sign Language interpreter, or auxiliary aid or service to attend or participate in the meeting should contact (505) 827-7602 or email at least two (2) days prior to the hearing.


Immediate Release: PDF -updated 11/20/19 5:37 PM

VisionQuest application for licensing for migrant shelter denied

For Immediate Release: Charlie Moore-Pabst, Deputy Public Information Officer


SANTA FE – The Children, Youth & Families Department announced Tuesday that VisionQuest, awarded a $2.9 million federal grant to start and operate a group shelter for unaccompanied migrant children in Albuquerque, has been formally denied a license by the department’s Licensing and Certification Authority Bureau.

The company initially informed CYFD of its intent to open and applied for initial licensing in August. The department denied the license request based on NMAC D and F.                     GROUNDS FOR REVOCATION, SUSPENSION OF LICENSE, DENIAL OF INITIAL OR RENEWAL APPLICATION FOR LICENSE, OR IMPOSITION OF SANCTIONS:  A license may be revoked or suspended, an initial or renewal application for license may be denied, or sanctions may be imposed after notice and opportunity for a hearing, for any of the following:  

D.        Purposeful or intentional misrepresentation(s) or falsification(s) of any information on application forms or other documents provided to the Licensing Authority.

F.        Presence of and or a history of licensure revocation, suspension, denial, other similar disciplinary actions taken by regulatory bodies within this state, or other states regardless of whether any of these actions resulted in a settlement.

An informal resolution conference was requested by VisionQuest and held on October 4th. In that conference, CYFD informed VisionQuest that the initial denial based on the license revocation of another facility remained sufficient grounds to deny the license. The company was given 10 days to inform the department’s Licensing and Certification Authority Bureau (as outlined in NMAC of their decision to request a public hearing.

The company informed the department’s Licensing and Certification Authority Bureau that they will not be requesting a public hearing.

The license denial is considered final and the department considers the matter resolved.

The shelter grant was awarded by the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement.


Immediate Release: PDF

CYFD Receives National Recognition for Racial Equity Work

For Immediate Release: Melody Wells, Public Information Officer


The Department’s Juvenile Justice Division was Honored for 21-Day Equity Challenge

SANTA FE – New Mexico’s Children, Youth and Families Department’s Juvenile Justice Services Division and several Bernalillo County juvenile justice stakeholders were honored at a conference on October 16th for their participation in an “equity habits” challenge, a project of The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI).

Out of 34 Jurisdictions nationwide, CYFD and Bernalillo County had the largest number of people participating over the 21-day challenge. In all, 138 New Mexicans who work with juvenile justice-involved youth have remained active in using a new online tool designed to help reduce racial and ethnic disparities in the juvenile justice system by building competencies among staff and stakeholders who interact with youth.

In a statement recognizing New Mexico, The Annie E. Casey Foundation wrote that the state’s high rate of participation is “a testament to [New Mexico’s] belief that lifetime learning around race equity practice is a necessary part of juvenile justice system improvement work and an essential ingredient for improving the wellbeing of youth and families in our communities.”

In May, CYFD’s Juvenile Justice Services Division received a $15,000.00 award from the Annie E. Casey Foundation for their racial equity work. CYFD has since invested that money in taking this learning to scale. “We are honored that the Annie E. Casey Foundation sees the work we’re doing as leading change when it comes to reducing racial and ethnic disparities in the juvenile justice system,” said Nick Costales, Deputy Director of Field Services for CYFD’s Juvenile Justice Services Division. “However, this work requires our full community’s support in order to be effective. To that end, we are investing this generous award into our efforts to train and support more stakeholders to engage in the introspection, collaboration and procedural changes we need in order to advance racial equity in the juvenile justice system in New Mexico.”


Immediate Release: PDF

New CYFD Task Force Members Announced

For Immediate Release: Melody Wells, Public Information Officer


The Child Protective Services Task Force Includes Behavioral and Physical Health Experts, Foster Parents, Kinship Caregivers and Guardians

Santa Fe – The Children, Youth & Families Department Cabinet Secretary Brian Blalock has announced the members of a Child Protective Services Task Force that will work directly with CYFD leadership to research and make recommendations for positive changes to the Department.

The Task Force comes out of House Joint Memorial 10, which was introduced and approved during last year’s Legislative Session. The Joint Memorial created a Child Protective Services Task Force that is charged with making “recommendations to improve the safety and well-being of children and youth in the care of child protective services by improving the relationship between the Children, Youth and Families Department and resource families, for better supporting resource families, and for collaboratively working toward better recruitment and retention of resource families.”

Secretary Blalock praised the new Task Force as “a good way for us to meet with stakeholders to get new ideas and to increase transparency about what we are doing to improve CYFD.” He said the Task Force is part of a significant positive change effort led by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham guided by “a renewed investment in state government’s responsiveness and cooperation” with stakeholders and the public.

The Child Protective Services Task Force will begin meeting in November 2019 and has until October 2020 to make its initial report.

Members named to the new task force applied and were chosen by Secretary Blalock, guided by the recommendations in the Joint Memorial. HJM-10 Task Force Members include:

  • Mariana Padilla, Director of the Children’s Cabinet
  • Katrina Hotrum-Lopez, Cabinet Secretary for the Department of Aging and Long-Term Services
  • Truman Clark, who brings experience as a young person involved with CYFD
  • Bette Fleishman, Executive Director of Pegasus Legal Services for Children and Member of the Children’s Court Improvement Commission
  • Roslynn Gallegos, a Licensed Behavioral Health Professional
  • Destiny Garzes, who brings experience as a young person involved with CYFD
  • Hon. Petra Jimenez-Maes, (Ret. NMSC)
  • Ashley Keiler-Green, a Licensed Physical Health Expert
  • State Senator Linda Lopez, who is also a guardian
  • Emily Martin, a CYFD Employee
  • Jolene Martinez, who brings expertise in youth homelessness
  • Pamela Michaels, who brings expertise in working with LGBTQAI young people and families
  • Veronica Montano-Pilch, Executive Director of New Mexico Kids Matter
  • David Montoya, who brings expertise in the Indian Child Welfare Act
  • Kalonji Mwanza, a licensed social worker who brings expertise and historical CYFD knowledge
  • Carmen Prince-Morris, who brings experience as a foster parent
  • Veronica Ray Krupnik, who serves as a Court Appointed Special Advocate and also brings lived experience as a young person who was involved with CYFD
  • William Romero, a CYFD employee
  • Joanna Rubi, who brings experience as a foster parent
  • Lieutenant Nick Sanders of the Albuquerque Police Department
  • Donalyn Sarracino, CYFD’s Tribal Liaison
  • Carri Shook, who brings experience as a foster parent and expertise in working with LGBTQAI young people and families
  • Ezra Spitzer, Executive Director of NMCAN (New Mexico Child Advocacy Network)
  • Margaret Villegas, who brings experience as a young person involved with CYFD
  • Desiree Wheeler, who brings experience as a young person involved with CYFD
  • Jane Yohalem, who brings expertise in family reunification


Immediate Release: PDF

5 Simple Ways to Improve Your Child’s Relationship With Homework

By Emily Graham


If your nightly routine consists of struggling to get your tired, frustrated child to complete their homework, you're likely desperate for anything that can make your evening easier. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are just a few simple things you can do to make homework time a little less painful (including some tech options) and a little more enjoyable for everyone involved.

Understand Your Child's Point of View

While it's easy to get frustrated if your little one is screaming, crying, or otherwise refusing to finish their homework, it's vital to take a moment to understand where they're coming from. Before starting on homework, take a minute or two to talk to your child about how they're feeling — did they have a bad day? Are they struggling to understand a certain topic? If you start the night making sure your child knows you're on their side, things are more likely to go smoothly, and you'll be better able to anticipate meltdowns before they arise.

Make It Pleasant

While homework is hard work, the process of sitting down to do it doesn't need to be miserable. Try letting your little one have a snack as they work, let them pick from a selection of study music or ambient noise, and get them to take frequent breaks — don't expect them to focus for more than 15 or 20 minutes at a time.

Consider using a tablet, such as the iPad 10.2, as motivation. It’s laden with fun features to ease homework woes, and it’s lightweight, powerful, and versatile. And once homework is complete, your youngster can transition directly to playing games for a little while. You might even be able to sneak in an educational app like GoldieBlox and the Movie Machine, or find an educational streaming channel like PBS KIDS.

If this idea appeals to you but your family uses Androids, don't worry — try an alternative like the Asus Chromebook Tablet CT100, which has the power and capability for homework and games, and also is extremely durable.

Make a Dedicated Space

Doing the same type of mental work in the same space every day helps to increase recall — Mountain Heights Academy explains this phenomenon is known as context-specific memory. To boost your youngster’s learning power, creating a dedicated study space is a great way to give their brain the cue that it's time to focus. This space doesn't need to be huge or elaborate, but it should be comfortable — think warm lighting, a good chair, and pleasant ambient noise such as Rainy Mood. Remove as many distractions as possible, and let your child help decorate the space to make it their own.

Stick to a Schedule

This can be difficult with the constant interruptions and obligations of daily life, but if at all possible, try to sit down with your child at the same time every night to work on homework. This has a number of benefits. It helps your child learn time management and responsibility, which will benefit them throughout their school life and into adulthood. Additionally, a routine can be incredibly comforting — rather than unexpectedly having to shift from playtime to homework time, having a regular schedule can help ease the transition and give children something to expect.

Praise Thoughtfully

According to Quartz, studies show that children who are praised for being smart tend to fear failure and avoid taking risks. Praising kids based on the effort they make to overcome challenges, however, encourages them to try harder and makes it easier for them to cope when they struggle to understand something. Make it clear to your kids that when they work hard to learn something difficult, it grows their brain — meaning that each time they overcome a challenge, the topic they fear will get easier.

Homework doesn't need to be a nightly struggle. Establishing routines, communicating kindly and openly with your child, and consciously praising and encouraging hard work will all help enable your child to have a healthy relationship with homework. Make some minor adjustments and you’re sure to see big benefits.

More Families Able to Access Child Care Assistance

For Immediate Release: Melody Wells, Public Information Officer


New Regulation Ensures More Families Can Receive Financial Support

Santa Fe – On October 1, 2019, new regulations took effect that allow families with incomes up to 200% of the federal poverty level to begin receiving financial assistance for child care services and up to 250% of the federal poverty level to exit the child care financial assistance program .

This means that families with qualifying incomes can receive support to pay for their childcare at any of the CYFD licensed childcare centers, or licensed or registered home providers.

“We’re proud to offer childcare assistance for more families in our great state of New Mexico, because when families can have quality, affordable childcare, they can work and pursue education that can help them get out of poverty and fully participate in their communities,”  said Alejandra RebolledoRea, Director of CYFD’s Early Childhood Services Division.

Childcare assistance is secured for families that enter the program at up to 200% of the federal poverty level even if their income increases, up to 250% of the federal poverty level. “We wanted to eliminate the “cliff effect” that often occurs when families start earning more money,” said RebolledoRea. “This way, families can build up their income and continue to receive financial support for childcare within the same year, if they are already receiving assistance.”

CYFD will also now pay the required childcare registration fees for families that qualify for assistance, helping support providers for those up-front costs.

To enquire about child care eligibility or to find a high quality child care program, please call 1-800-691-9067 or visit for more information on providers in your area and to take an online eligibility quiz.


Immediate Release: PDF

CYFD Youth Facilities Receive Donation Of Welding Gloves For Vocational Training

For Immediate Release: Charlie Moore-Pabst


ALBUQUERQUE— The Children, Youth and Families Department recently accepted a donation of 60 pair of welding gloves for students to use in vocational rehabilitation training.

The gloves, provided by CYFD non-profit partner LifeQuest, are for use at Foothill High School on Albuquerque’s Youth Diagnostic and Development Center campus. Students at Foothill are encouraged to participate in vocational programs and can receive vocational certificates in addition to completing high school, getting a GED, and earning college credits.

“We have partnered with LifeQuest for over 10 years to provide mentoring, education, and workforce activities. This donation of dozens of pairs of welding gloves will help ensure juveniles at Foothills High School will receive vocational training with quality safety equipment,” Deputy Director of Facilities for Juvenile Justice Services Tamera Marcantel said. “Our children are gaining employable skills through vocational programming. These services are critical to the success of our clients as they prepare to reintegrate successfully into the community.”

Dozens of students are recognized statewide throughout the year for vocational and other skills achievements.

LifeQuest is a non-profit that serves youth in the juvenile justice community throughout New Mexico.  In July LifeQuest provided a three day seminar of the nationally recognized Ready4Life program to thirty young men and will be partnering with CYFD for the third consecutive year on October 16 to provide a College and Career Fair for incarcerated youth.  For more information on how you can be involved you may contact LifeQuest at 505-341-9383 or visit their website at


APD, CYFD announce 800 personnel trained on streamlined CYFD Law Enforcement Portal

For Immediate Release: Charlie Moore-Pabst


ALBUQUERQUE— The Albuquerque Police Department and the New Mexico Children, Youth & Families Department announced Thursday that hundreds of APD officers and civilian employees have been trained to use a portal  that shows CYFD history and involvement with families. The information can be helpful during law enforcement investigations.

This information was already av­­­ailable to officers by calling the CYFD Statewide Central Intake or working with case workers or other CYFD staff.

Thursday marked the completion of training for more than 800 officers and civilian specialists with APD. CYFD has already seen more than 25,000 searches from APD related to investigations. The portal shows officers basic information on CYFD’s involvement with families, including whether CYFD has history with a family, any prior adjudication, and contact information for current CYFD staff involved in a case.

“This streamlined portal of information is meant to help any trained law enforcement personnel approach investigations with more information and allows them to make better decisions when approaching a family,” CYFD Deputy Secretary Terry Locke said. “Our hope is to prevent creating unnecessary additional trauma on a family that may have police contact.”

CYFD is training other law enforcement and judicial agencies statewide. To date, more than 25 agencies across the state have signed agreements with the department to access the portal. APD, serving most of Bernalillo County, has the largest number of officers and covers the highest of number of children in foster care.

Mayor Tim Keller announced last year that APD would train additional officers to use the CYFD portal, in keeping with recommendations from a 2014 task force that had not previously been implemented. Today he stated, “With this training, our officers have direct access to a tool that helps bring more information to light as we work to keep kids safe. Each of us in government, law enforcement and the community has a role to play to change outcomes in kids’ lives. We’re stepping up and working with our partners so APD officers can be more informed when they are having some of the most critical interactions that they have in our community.”

I am proud of the relationship we have developed with CYFD and all of our partners. Protecting children has to be the top priority for everyone in the state.”

Implementation of the law enforcement portal with APD began in April. Both APD and CYFD used the opportunity to train more than 800 officers as a conduit for better communication between the departments. Once trained, officers immediately get access to use the portal in the field.

The CYFD Law Enforcement Portal connects directly to the department’s FACTS system, offering responding officers real-time information directly from CYFD. This system and a test approach on cross-reporting ( are among the many efforts both departments are undertaking to work together better to keep children safe.

CYFD Director of Law Enforcement Margaret Aragon de Chavez said, “We have reached a milestone by getting so many APD officers trained in the Law Enforcement Portal. We will continue to work with law enforcement agencies across the state to ensure that all officers that want this training will receive it.” 


CYFD’s Family Nutrition Bureau Public Service Announcement

For Immediate Release
CYFD Family Nutrition Bureau


CYFD’s Family Nutrition Bureau (FNB) announces that the Sponsoring Organizations, Independent Centers and Care Facilities which are listed on the “” website, have agreements in place to administer the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), at the locations that are specified. Please see the FNB section of the website. Use the “Forms, Documents and Materials Library” link under the “Caregivers and Educators tab.  The “Center Sponsor List of Participants”, “Home Sponsor List of Participants” and the “Income Eligibility Guidelines” are all under General Information folders.  All participants at any of the listed locations will be offered the same meals and/or snacks with no physical segregation of or other discriminatory action against any person.  

In accordance with Federal Law and US Department of Agriculture policy, these institutions listed are prohibited from discriminating against any participant on the basis of race, color national origin, sex, age or disability, gender identity, religion, reprisal and where applicable, political beliefs, marital status, familial or parental status, sexual orientation or if all or part of an individual’s income is derived from any public assistance program or from any program or activity conducted or funded by the Department. (Not all prohibited bases will apply to all programs and/or employment activities.)  

To file a Civil Rights complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, found online at, or at any USDA office, or call (866) 632-9992 to request the form. You may also write to USDA, Director, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC. 202250-9410. Or you may also call toll free to (866) 632-9992, send by fax to (202) 690-7442 or email at if you prefer.

Individuals who are hearing impaired or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339 or call 1-800-845-6136 (para Espaῆol)   USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

For information on the Child and Adult Care Food Program guidelines, regulations, sponsoring organizations or qualifications to participate, call 1-800-EAT COOL or 505-827-9961.


Immediate Release: PDF

CYFD to Increase Child Care Assistance Minimum Qualifications

For Immediate Release


SANTA FE -- The New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department on Wednesday announced it will enact new regulations to increase the Child Care Assistance Program’s minimum qualifications for families to enter the program from 150 percent of the federal poverty level to 200 percent. 

“Universal child care assistance in New Mexico is my unconditional goal,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said. “So we will concern ourselves with coverage and access first and foremost. To settle for anything less would be a disservice to the families and children of this state. Our Children, Youth and Families Department has been working and will continue to work diligently to enroll every eligible family and child in this state and expand access to this and other essential programs.”

“Providing high-quality child care is a cornerstone priority of CYFD and this state,” said CYFD Secretary Brian Blalock. “To that end, we are going to push as far as we can go. We know that statistically, each family with access to high-quality child care is more likely to come out of poverty over time. Those parents and caretakers are also more able to work and attend school. Indeed, the Child Care Assistance Program is one of the most important in the CYFD system, and this increase reflects our practical commitment to our highest ideals.”

The agency’s Early Childhood Services Division is working with social services offices and launched an at-risk program for families who wouldn’t otherwise qualify for child care assistance. A needs assessment is also underway to identify and eliminate any other gaps that families may face. CYFD is also working with community organizations, legislators, providers, early childhood educators and more to increase participation in the child care assistance program. 

A hearing scheduled Monday in Santa Fe to solicit public comment on an earlier proposed increase to the program’s minimum qualifications has been postponed. Notice of a subsequent rulemaking hearing will be issued at a later date.

“We will continue to work with advocates and the community on measures to improve our child care program,” Secretary Blalock said.

This increase follows a lawsuit filed last year against the Martinez administration, which stated the department improperly adjusted qualification levels for eligible families. As part of the settlement to that lawsuit, CYFD temporarily increased access to families that make up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level. The department is now committing to maintaining that level.


News Release: PDF

HSD encourages New Mexicans to watch film, ‘The Shake-Up’

For Immediate Release: Human Services Department


SANTA FE, N.M. – The New Mexico Human Services Department encourages the public to watch the nonprofit documentary film The Shake-Up by filmmaker Ben Altenberg, made in partnership with the New Mexico Community Foundation. The film is about the 2013 New Mexico Medicaid payment freeze to behavioral health providers that was conducted by the previous administration. The Shake-Up is scheduled to air on New Mexico PBS | KNME-HD, Friday, June 21, 2019, at 9 p.m.

“I think people need to see and talk about this film to ensure that something like this never happens again,” said Human Services Secretary David R. Scrase, M.D. “As I promised at the first showing of the film, our HSD management team watched the film together and then discussed questions like: ‘What went wrong?’ and ‘What kind of leaders must we be to ensure this never happens again?’”

The film features interviews with providers and consumers of behavioral health services who were directly impacted by the freeze.

“The most poignant part to me of the long HSD management team discussion about the film was learning that two of our own HSD leaders had children with extensive behavioral health issues who were personally affected by a loss of services after their care providers shut down,” said Scrase. “This decision affected so many New Mexican families. We are working diligently on the plan to restore what was taken away.”

The Human Services Department is fully committed to rebuilding the behavioral health network in New Mexico wisely, with integrity and focus, and ensure the people of New Mexico that what has happened in the past is not repeated.

What: The Shake-Up a nonprofit documentary film

When: Friday, June 21, 2019 at 9 p.m.

Where: New Mexico PBS | KNME-HD

Albuquerque Screening:



The Shake-Up will also air on KENW-TV station in Portales which covers the Eastern half of New Mexico at the following times:

KENW-TV station in Portales broadcasts of “The Shake-Up”





Jul. 2, 2019

7 p.m.


Jul. 9, 2019

8 a.m.


Jul. 11, 2019

7 p.m.


Jul. 12, 2019

9 p.m.


​Jul. 13, 2019

12 Midnight


Jul. 14, 2019

11 a.m.


July 26, 2019

9 p.m.


The Shake-Up was recently broadcast on KRWG June 14, and June 15, for Las Cruces viewers and will be broadcast again in August. Please check your local listings.​

For more HSD news, click here.

CYFD Parks Announcement

For Immediate Release
Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department


Free Admission to State Museums and Parks for Foster Families Begins June 14

SANTA FE, NM – House Bill 303 (HB 303), Foster Family Park and Museum Free Admission, goes into effect tomorrow and will provide more young people with access to the outdoors and cultural sites throughout New Mexico. Sponsored by Representatives Rebecca Dow, Kelly K. Fajardo, David M. Gallegos, Susan K. Herrera, and Angelica Rubio and signed into law by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham on April 2, 2019 the bill goes into effect tomorrow, June 14.

New Mexico State Parks, a Division of the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department (EMNRD), is committed to connecting youth with the outdoors. By providing free day-use admission to State Parks for foster parents and children in the custody of foster parents, the Division is fulfilling its mission of creating a safe outdoor space with educational opportunities for more New Mexico residents.

“New Mexico State Parks supported this legislation during the session, and I enthusiastically added my signature updating our rules to allow free admission for foster families,” said EMNRD Cabinet Secretary Sarah Cottrell Propst. “This legislation will open up the outdoors and our many vibrant cultural sites to more New Mexicans which is a top priority for this administration.”   

“Our state-run museums and historic sites are also offering free admission to New Mexico’s foster care families who do so much to support children in need,” says Debra Garcia y Griego, Cabinet Secretary for the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs. “Providing a sense of place, community and history, we hold a vast collection of cultural treasures which now will be easily accessible to New Mexico’s foster families.”

“We at Children, Youth & Families Department (CYFD) are so appreciative of this opportunity for our children in foster care. New Mexico has great parks and museums and these passes will allow them to experience activities they might not have been able to,” said Annamarie Luna, Acting Protective Services Director at CYFD.

Free admission to state-owned museums and parks is contingent upon a current New Mexico’s driver’s license or other state of New Mexico issues photo identification and a current New Mexico children, youth, and families department foster parent certification card.

News Release: PDF

Española Schools Expand CYFD Summer Lunch Program

By Rio Grande Sun


The Española School District took on 11 additional distribution sites for the Summer Food Service Program this year after Rio Arriba County stopped participating due to fiscal issues.

The District’s branch of the nationwide program offers free breakfast and lunch at 27 locations to children ages 1 to 18 no matter where they are from, and with no need to register.

County Parks and Recreation Director Jeremy Maestas said he hoped Rio Arriba could return to the program in the future.

“We were not getting the (attendance) that we were hoping to get,” he said. “It was putting us more in debt.”

Maestas said the County served about 40 percent fewer meals in 2018 than in 2017.

The Lucero Center at 313 Paseo de Oñate and the Eight Northern Indian Pueblos WIC Clinic at 610 Calle Vigil will serve breakfast from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. and lunch from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. through July 26, Monday through Friday.

Moving Arts Española at 68 State Road 291 will serve lunch from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. and snacks from 3 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. through July 19, Monday through Thursday only.

A comprehensive list of sites and their active dates and times is available here.

The program is administered by the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department with federal funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The federal government reimburses participating organizations but poor attendance can lead to an organization having to cover some costs themselves as the reimbursement is based on meals served, Children Youth and Families Department Summer Food Service Program Director Emiliano Perea said.

Thousands served

The District’s Food Services and Warehouse Manager Patricia Romero, who oversees the program and has participated since the District began a decade ago, said they served more than 8,500 meals in the program’s opening week last week, a massive increase from the first week of 2018.

CYFD Spokesperson Charlie Pabst said last year, the statewide program served more than 1.6 million meals at nearly 700 sites in New Mexico.

A Children, Youth and Families Department administrative review ranked the District highest out of 28 participating organizations reviewed in 2018, based on program compliance, program fluency and performance.

Romero said the District aims to use fresh ingredients and to make items from scratch when possible.

“The cooks put so much love in and care in their food that the kids come and they want to come back,” she said.

About eight cooks begin preparing the meals in bulk Monday through Friday at 6 a.m. at Española Middle School before the food is transported sites including schools, churches and nonprofits, most of which are participating from June 3 to July 26.

Española Middle School Math Teacher James Scott, who is teaching summer school, said the meals impact students’ ability to learn.

“Kids can’t think when they’re hungry,” he said. “I can see a difference between the kid that was here to eat breakfast and the kid who didn’t eat.”

Romero said the meals can also relieve financial stress on families for whom the lapse in the free food and supervision provided during the school year can empty wallets and overfill schedules in the summer.

Even with a massive rise in attendance so far, Romero said she wished more people would take advantage of the meals, citing unawareness of the program and stigma against social programs as factors which keep people away.

“We wish more people would come out, there’s so many sites,” she said. “You don’t even have to tell your name.”

Perea said the District did well at filling the gaps left by the County.

“When the County decided to opt out of the program, I knew we were in trouble,” he said. “I’d really call (Romero) an advocate for the children and the community.”

Source: Rio Grande Sun

Tips To Keep Your Family Safe At Home This Summer

By Charlie Moore-Pabst


With school out for many New Mexico children, parents are often left with questions on whether it’s appropriate to leave children at home during the summer months while they are at work.

Children, Youth & Families Department (CYFD) caseworker Schalicia Degase joined Truth or Consequences Police Chief Randall Aragon on KCHS Radio, The Voice of Sierra County and Spaceport America, to help parents decide when their children are self-sufficient enough to spend time on their own. She also provides useful tips on keeping your children safe when you are not around.

Click here to download and listen to the radio show.

On the May 27, 2019 episode of “The Chief’s Update,” Schalicia also spoke about how she works side-by-side law enforcement in Sierra County to ensure the safety of our children. She explained what it means when she is called to a scene and the steps taken by police and CYFD to ensure the safety of the child in question.

The Chief’s Update runs on KCHS FM 101.9 several times during the week: Tuesday at 10 AM, Wednesdays at noon, and Thursdays at 5 PM. The show is also posted on the department’s Facebook page.

New Mexico Acknowledged for Measures Improving Foster Care;  CYFD Calls For Task Force Applicants

By Charlie Moore-Pabst


SANTA FE -- The state of New Mexico was among just 13 states acknowledged by a national foster care organization for passing new legislation or executive orders to improve foster-parenting policies. Lawmakers and the Children, Youth & Families Department were identified last week by CHAMPS (Children Need Amazing Parents), a national campaign to improve foster care, as having passed HJM 10, Child Protective Services Task Force. The goal of this new task force is to improve recruitment and retention of foster resource families.

Groundwork for the task force is currently underway, led by CYFD Secretary Brian Blalock. Blalock said of the honor, “We knew that HJM 10 was a move in the right direction for foster families across the state. This recognition from CHAMPS shows the fostering community is taking notice of these positive changes.”

CHAMPS also acknowledged New Mexico lawmakers for their leadership in passing HM 20 and SM 4, declaring days in both the New Mexico House and Senate to honor foster parents and other advocates.

“Foster families in New Mexico and nationwide are truly heroes for stepping forward when children are in crisis,” said Hope Cooper, CHAMPS Campaign Director. “Not only do they provide a safe and loving home to live in temporarily, they help many children and families heal and recover. We are grateful to New Mexico state leaders and child welfare advocates for working toward better policies to support foster families and children in care.”

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham was also one of only four governors to mention foster care in her state of the state address at the beginning of the year.

Blalock said, “Governor Lujan Grisham made her priorities clear for all children in the state. As a department, we will continue to work to make New Mexico the safest place in the country to be a child."

The Child Protective Services Task Force is responsible for making recommendations to the Children, Youth & Families Department to improve the relationship between CYFD and foster families and to improve recruitment and retention of foster families.

Secretary Blalock announced the department is currently seeking applicants for members to join the task force.

Applications are due by June 21, 2019. The application and instructions to apply can be found at:

The task force will also recommend measures to provide consistent policies and procedures across the state, recommend ways to reduce burdens on families in the care of a child in the custody of the state, as well as review and make recommendations to training, family reintegration policies, and study ways to avoid multiple placements in foster care.

Public members of the Child Protective Services Task Force are to include two foster parents, a guardian of a child, two kinship caregivers, a licensed medical physical health expert, a licensed behavioral health expert, and a family reintegration expert.

Other successes during the 2019 Legislative Session include passage of SB 28, requiring CYFD to give preference to relatives who may provide foster care. The Placement of Children in Protective Custody act also requires those relatives to start the licensure process to become foster parents within three days of taking custody of a child or children.

The Plan of Safe Care Act, HB 230, also becomes law this year. With the act, CYFD will now receive notification any time an infant tests positive for addictive substances and be able to assess the family’s strengths and needs without requiring opening a formal abuse or neglect case.

“We see each of these laws as complimentary to each other, setting the stage for continued reform in CYFD,” Blalock said. “We are also putting major efforts into improving relative foster care placement—making sure a child removed from the home stays with a relative whenever possible. Research shows staying with a family member instead of a non-relative foster family can reduce trauma on the children involved, which is always one of our highest priorities.”

The first report of the Child Protective Services Task Force is due by October 2020.

Read the full policy update from CHAMPS here:

Source: CYFD News Release

Related articles:
KOB4 CYFD seeks applicants for new task force

After initial bump, CYFD proposes tighter eligibility for child care help

By New Mexico In Depth


When NM In Depth reported on a settlement earlier this month in a lawsuit against the Children Youth and Families Department over its policies on child care assistance, a big money question was left hanging.

CYFD agreed to temporarily bump initial eligibility for child care subsidies to families earning up to 200% of the federal poverty level, from 150%, but the department would need supplementary funding if it was going to keep it at that level.

Part of the settlement with OLÉ and the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty also said the department needed to come up with new eligibility rules within 90 days, and give the public a chance to weigh in. This week the department posted those proposed changes — taking eligibility to apply for assistance to just 160% of the federal poverty level. Those who already have the benefit would continue to keep it until they reach 200% of FPL.

In early May, CYFD spokesman Charlie Moore-Pabst said the state would need to find more funding, lower eligibility or a combination of both, with Secretary Brian Blalock aiming to keep the level as close to 200% as possible.

A cash infusion will not be forthcoming. Moore-Pabst said Thursday the department set initial entry for child care benefits at 160% of the federal poverty level to stay within current funding approved by the Legislature.

“The department is going to continue to work with legislators to get as much funding as we can to help working families,” he said via email.

As to lawmakers, their enthusiasm for increased child care assistance has been notably lower than for the popular PreK early education program. New Mexico PreK got an increase of 30% in next year’s budget, while home visiting and child care assistance got a more modest 7% increase. And a proposal during the 2019 legislative session to put a 200% eligibility level into law, limit copays and ease a benefit “cliff effect” for working parents who get a modest raise was dead on arrival. Fiscal analysts estimated the proposal would cost the state $40 million per year.

There will be a public hearing on the new eligibility rules on July 8 in Santa Fe.

“The prior administration changed the rate without due process, and we are just beginning that process and encourage public participation,” he said.

Source: New Mexico In Depth

CYFD Announces Settlement in Childcare Suit

By Charlie Moore-Pabst


The Children, Youth and Families Department announced this week that a settlement has been reached in a lawsuit regarding childcare assistance payments. The settlement of the suit, which was brought against the department in September 2018, will require CYFD to provide increased access to child care assistance to families across the state.

“This agreement is a step in the right direction when it comes to increased transparency and accountability,” CYFD Secretary Brian Blalock said. “This agreement will also ensure due process for our children and our families.”

Parents will now have access to the methods used to determine child care co-pays and will receive appropriate notices about appeals and free legal assistance.

Blalock said, “This will make it easier for families to check the department’s methodology to ensure they are receiving an appropriate subsidy and to file an appeal when they think something is wrong.”

Families who applied for benefits and the organization OLÉ were represented by the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty as plaintiffs in the suit. First Judicial District Court Judge Matthew J. Wilson signed off on the order this week. READ MORE

CYFD Rolls Out New Risk Assessment Tool!

By NM Political Report


New Mexico’s Children Youth and Families Department (CYFD) perpetually faces criticism for intervening too late and overstepping boundaries. The department is often in the news, mostly after records show officials ignoring warning signs. Conversely, some families say they have faced intrusive home visits over school absences and one father was separated from his family and fired from his job for allegedly sexually abusing his daughter, even though prosecutors eventually said the evidence did not point to a crime.

Now, CYFD is trying something new.

With new department implemented risk assessment plan and response system soon-to-be implemented by law, CYFD Secretary Brian Blalock hopes to change how child welfare cases in New Mexico are opened, investigated and ultimately resolved. The plan develops a point system that helps caseworkers better determine whether they should remove a child from their home, conduct a further investigation or refer the family to assistance programs. The legislation doesn’t go into effect until July 2020, but Blalock said his department is set to roll out its own “structured decision making tool” this month.

Point system

Blalock said he can’t take credit for the idea to better standardize child welfare operations. His staff was already working on it before Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham appointed him to lead the department.

“I inherited it,” Blalock said of the new plan. “This goes in the category of the fact that CYFD has some really good staff.”

Blalock said the structured plan will incorporate a quantifiable point system, but will also allow for deviation if a case worker feels like something is not right.

“Maybe the individual worker might feel inclined to remove [a child], but the score is telling them something else, that would then trigger a supervisory review,” Blalock said.

Blalock said he’s also been working with the Albuquerque Police Department to ensure the police are only called when a child might be in serious danger.

“We have police being deployed to situations and they get there and they say, ‘Why in the world am I here?’” Blalock said.

That doesn’t always happen. In 2017 CYFD asked the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s for help with a child welfare visit. That visit ended with the father handcuffed and his two children were taken into custody.

NM Political Report previously reported on Adam Lowther and his family’s experience dealing with both CYFD and law enforcement. CYFD will not discuss Lowther’s case, but Blalock confirmed that he met with Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller last week and will to solidify plans with the city on how and when law enforcement should be called.

“We’re just going to, for two hours, roll our sleeves up and really try to get to a strong flow chart and policies [in place],” Blalock said.

Blalock hopes the department will be able to screen out minor calls but along with identifying and helping families in need of financial or emotional support.

‘A nice compliment’

This year’s legislative session saw a plethora of bills and memorials aimed at bolstering CYFD and helping struggling families. Not all of them passed, but one that did was House Bill 376, sponsored by Rep. Gail Chasey, D-Albuquerque. The bill which doesn’t become law until next year, mandates that CYFD implement a “multi-level response system” to better identify which children need to be removed from their home and which ones need assistance. Blalock said he can’t take credit for this idea either, but that the concept is not new or unique to New Mexico. The secretary referred to UC Berkeley professor Dr. Jill Berrick, who has written extensively about “differential response” or alternatives to separating children from their families when they simply don’t have enough or the right resources.

“Her take on it was that if all you have is a hammer, everything is a nail,” Blalock said.

While Blalock acknowledged that removing a child can sometimes ensure a child is safe, it can also cause more problems.

“If you remove when you don’t need to, you cause unnecessary trauma to that child and that family,” Blalock said.

He called Chasey’s bill a “nice compliment” to the more immediate structured decision making tool roll-out this month.

Source: NMPoliticalReport

Hope of new laws to bring positive changes

CYFD hopes new laws will bring positive changes by KRQE


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) - The Children, Youth, and Families Department Cabinet Secretary is hoping new laws will help the department step in to save children a lot sooner. This comes after Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed new bills to make sure children are the top priority.

"I think we got a lot done that really paves the way for where we can go as far as making New Mexico a better place for kids," said Brian Blalock, CYFD Cabinet Secretary. 

Blalock said this legislative session is a sign of hope for the department and the children of New Mexico.

Blalock said HB 230 will make sure every child who is born with drugs in their system will get the proper care they deserve and need. He said it also focuses on rehabilitation rather than punishment for the parents.

"HB 230 really focuses on a medical treatment model to be sure when these babies are born drug exposed, we can be sure that the baby and the caregiver are receiving appropriate medical care," he said.

Blalock said HB 236 will take care of the truancy problem by linking the child and family to community-based support services to make sure they continue to go to school.

"It mandates and creates collaboration between school districts and us. That's great because it helps us partner with folks in the community that are working with kids more on the front lines," he said.

Blalock said what the previous administration was doing just wasn't working with high-profile child murder cases, like Omare Varela and Victoria Martens.

"We're inheriting systems that maybe aren't necessarily set up to getting great results from kids or families," he said.

Now, Blalock hopes these new laws will finally show some positive changes to the youth of New Mexico.

"It's a way to set the path, set the base line so we can get started. We're looking forward to the next few years to do reform, but this gets us going in the right direction," he said.

A spokesperson for Albuquerque Public Schools said they are waiting to hear from the Public Education Department on what they need to change or keep in their policies and procedures.

Another bill signed by the governor will help children who have been victims of human trafficking to get the help they need in a more efficient manner.

Source: KRQE

CYFD Secretary applauds Governor, Legislature on Child Welfare Reform

CYFD Secretary applauds Governor, Legislature for steps forward on Child Welfare Reform By New Mexico News Network


SANTA FE — SANTA FE -- Children, Youth and Families Department Secretary Brian Blalock expressed his
thanks this week to the New Mexico Legislature and Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham for
approving a set of bills that will kick-start child welfare reform in the state.

“We are thrilled to see that Republicans and Democrats alike are serious about transforming
New Mexico’s child welfare system, placing kids first,” Blalock said. “The department is
encouraged as we undertake the monumental task of reforming our systems to ensure best
practices, support the most vulnerable and set up our kids to become successful adults.”

Among the new laws signed by the governor is SB 23, Services for Youth Leaving Foster Care,
which extends optional support to young adults who age out of foster care from 18 to age 21.
The phased implementation will begin extending services in July of 2021, allowing the
department to ensure additional infrastructure to fully support these newly-eligible young adults
is in place.

“New Mexico kids are leaving home later in life than they did just a decade ago, but foster
children are still forced out of the system at 18,” Blalock said. “This expansion of optional
services will help with housing, education, employment, financial management and emotional
support. This bipartisan bill passed both the House and Senate unanimously, showing New
Mexicans will welcome improving services available to protect families.”

Several organizations throughout New Mexico already provide extended support for juveniles
exiting the foster care system. NMCAN Executive Director Ezra Spitzer said of the new law, “As
an organization that partners with young people, NMCAN is excited to work together to better
meet the needs of young people in New Mexico. The opportunity to develop new programming
from a fresh perspective is exciting and necessary. Age-appropriate supports to young people
ages 18 to 21 are needed and CYFD must authentically engage both that age group of young
people and community partners to meaningfully improve the transition to adulthood.”

Landmark legislation was also passed with the Plan of Safe Care Bill. The Children, Youth and
Families Department will now receive notification any time an infant tests positive for addictive
substances and be able to assess the family’s strengths and needs without requiring opening a
formal abuse or neglect case.

Dr. Janis Gonzales, president of the New Mexico Pediatric Society said, "This bill is a big step
forward because it adds a layer of support for NM families by requiring notification-- but not
necessarily abuse reporting-- for all infants born exposed, so even more families will receive
help, but it will be done in a non-punitive way that will help mothers feel supported rather than
persecuted. This approach has also been shown to increase the likelihood that pregnant
women will self-report and receive treatment for substance use disorder early in pregnancy."

Crafted with guiding input from the medical community, HB 230 is expected to become a model
bill for the rest of the country.

Normal mandatory CYFD reporting for abuse or neglect will still be required by current statute.
This law also puts New Mexico in federal compliance with federal law requiring plans of care for
exposed infants. The state is now eligible for an additional $200,000 per year.

Victims of child sex trafficking will also receive additional support thanks to HB 56, Prostitution
as a Delinquent Act. The bill decriminalizes prostitution charges for minors, authorizes law
enforcement to take the child into protective custody, and requires a CYFD referral.

Sex trafficked youth are victims no matter the circumstance. This change will allow children to
receive appropriate, trauma-informed services.

Karen Walker Brown, Director of Child Trafficking at the National Center for Youth Law said of
the new law, "Public agencies and community partners must work together to fundamentally
change the way children and youth who are commercially sexually exploited are viewed and
treated. The critical first step to creating a supportive response to help this population is to
recognize that these children and youth are victims of abuse that should not be criminalized for
things done to them. New Mexico has taken this first step and should be applauded for it."

The Abuse and Neglect Multilevel Response System was also created by lawmakers with HB
376. It offers support services at the first signs of potential abuse or neglect, helping to stabilize
the family before caseworkers are forced to remove children from the home due to deteriorating

“The paramount concern will always be the health and safety of children,” Blalock said.
“However, preference will now be given to keeping kids with their parents through tough times.
Home visitation, income support, and other reasonable services will be made available to
address the underlying causes of potential abuse and neglect.”

The law was modeled after a successful family support program piloted in Bernalillo County.
That program resulted in lowered rates of repeat mistreatment, and kept more children in their
own homes. Outside monitoring will provide an independent look at the program so that families
are getting the most from these supportive services.

A host of other bills that affect the safety and well-being of children were signed by the
governor, including:

  • HB 56: Prostitution as a Delinquent Act (Representatives Gail Chasey and Christine Trujillo)

All too often, children who are the victims of human trafficking are further traumatized by
being arrested on prostitution charges. This bill will both help prevent that traumatization,
and ensure that the child receives the support and services they need.

  • HB 230: Plan of Safe Care (Representative Christine Trujillo)

Everyone agrees that prenatal drug use can significantly affect a developing fetus, and
current research indicates that non-punitive interventions have the most long-term
benefits for the children and families. This bill, which brings New Mexico into line with
federal requirements, will help ensure the child and its parents receive the support and
services they need by giving caseworkers more options to protect the child.

  • HB 236: Attendance for Success Act (Representative Patricio Ruiloba)

Among the factors which have a direct effect on a child’s educational success is their
absentee rate: missing as few as two days a month can drastically affect a child’s
likelihood of graduating. This bill updates the New Mexico truancy laws to establish a
progressive approach to addressing a child’s absenteeism. As part of that process,
CYFD will work closely with the schools, the child, and the family, to ensure that they are
linked to appropriate community-based supports and services.

  • HB 314: Children’s Advocacy Centers (Representatives Linda Trujillo and Dayan Hochman-Vigil )

Child Advocacy Centers are organizations that provide training, prevention, and
treatment services to victims of child abuse and neglect, and their non-offending family
members. This bill clearly establishes the criteria that a Child Advocacy Center operating
in New Mexico must meet, based on the same best practices criteria that a Child
Advocacy Center must meet in order to become accredited through the National
Children’s Alliance.

  • SB 341: Transfer Complete Course Work (Senator Linda Lopez)

This bill works to ensure that a child’s educational achievements are not adversely
affected by their involvement in the foster care system by ensuring that they receive full
credit for all completed coursework regardless of their movement within the New Mexico
primary and secondary school systems.

  • SB 251: Tuition and Fee Waivers for Foster Children (Senator George Munoz)

This bill expands the population of foster care children eligible for a full waiver of postsecondary
tuition and fees at state institutions to any child who was in either state or
tribal foster care on or after their 14th birthday. This waiver supports the goal of SB 23 of
ensuring that children in foster care have all practicable supports and services
necessary to achieve their full adult potential.

Source: New Mexico News Network

Community Comes Together, April is Child Abuse Month

March shines light on state child abuse issues by KOAT 7 Action News


April is Child Abuse Prevention Month.

It comes on the heels of a number of recent child deaths in Albuquerque.

Roughly 100 people marched Saturday with the hope of changing that, saying changes need to happen now.

The Children and Youth Family Department sponsored the march.

It is the third year the organization has done it.

It was clear the recent child deaths were at the front of everyone's minds.

People from all walks of life marched with one message and spoke for the children who can no longer speak for themselves.

“We're here today to be their voices. Our voices will be heard,” New Mexico Pink Lady member Mari Lopez said.

Some called for elected officials to get more involved.

“In order to make change, I do believe our representatives, our senators, our city council - something needs to be done,” marcher Veronica Rael-Garcia said.

They hope what happens today is not forgotten tomorrow.

“It just doesn't stop here, and it doesn't stop when a child dies. It needs to be ongoing,” New Mexicans Against Child Abuse

Member Crystal Gutierrez-Baca said.

CYFD spokesperson Brian Blalock said there is plenty of blame to go around.

“Anytime a child dies, it represents a catastrophic failure by public systems and by relationships in communities,” Blalock said.

Blalock said new leadership is working hard to revamp processes that are not working at CYFD.

One is cutting down wait times for people wanting to report child abuse or neglect.

A couple of weeks ago, some wait times could be measured in hours, not minutes.

He said the longest wait times now are around 20 minutes.

“We're going to do everything we can to be sure that wait time is there and we continue to shrink it. I don't think there should be any wait time when it's urgent calls,” Blalock said.

But activists said even improvements at CYFD will not be enough.

“CYFD is an after-the-fact scenario, and they're dealing with things after abuse has happened, after something has been reported,” marcher Ernest Cuaron said.

Even though they do have some proactive programs, we need to step up as a community.>

CYFD officials said a big concern is the lack of community-based mental health services across the state.

Those allow people to get treatment at lower costs and often without having to leave their job or families.

Blalock said they're having strategy meetings with Albuquerque police and Albuquerque Public Schools.

The next one is scheduled for next week.

Source: KOAT 7 Action News

Community holds march against child abuse

Following several child deaths, community holds 'March Against Child Abuse' by KRQE


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) - On the heels of a brutal week for many New Mexico children, the annual March Against Child Abuse was held in Albuquerque and for the first time in three years, the CYFD secretary attended.

It's only been a week since 5-year-old Sara Dubois Gilbeau died. Police say Sara's dad beat her to death with a water shoe. Since then, two more children in Albuquerque have died.

"The child deaths we've had this week are just awful," said march organizer Veronica Garcia.

An eight-year-old was shot near Paseo Del Norte and San Pedro Sunday and on Tuesday, an 11-month-old died at a hotel after police say her father left her in the bathroom with the shower on. When he returned to check on her hours later, the chair she was in had tipped over and she was unresponsive.

Looking back on a horrific week, dozens of people gathered for the 3rd Annual March Against Child Abuse in Albuquerque and for the first time, CYFD officials were marching with the crowd. 

"A big thing is around community and renewing and rebuilding relationships,"

Newly appointed CYFD Secretary Brian Blalock says the department is undergoing a major transformation. 

"We want to turn frustration and anger into solutions so we can work together and be a better place for kids," said Blalock.

He knows regaining trust from the community may take some time and tells KRQE News 13 that's one of the biggest priorities. At this point, no one has been arrested for the shooting death of the eight-year-old girl.

Source: KRQE

Call Wait Times Reduced!

CYFD says peak call wait times reduced by Albuquerque Journal


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The state Children, Youth and Families Department said Friday that it has reduced the peak call wait times at its Statewide Central Intake system from hours to around 20 minutes.

Central Intake is the call center where all calls concerning abuse and neglect are routed and assessed before people are sent out to investigate.

“Reducing wait times as we have, even during our busiest hours, will allow our investigators to get into homes more quickly,” CYFD Deputy Secretary Terry Locke said in a news release. “As always, we encourage anyone to report potential abuse or neglect.”

New Mexico residents can call #SAFE (#7233) from their cellphones or 855-333-SAFE.

Off-peak wait times are even lower via a new triage system instituted by the department. According to the release, the triage system allows callers to speak to a person more quickly; additionally, the department is instituting schedule changes and using different technology to allow CYFD offices across the state to help carry the burden of new cases.

The maximum wait time for calls is expected to continue to improve as these changes and policies are implemented, CYFD said.

The announcement comes one day after child advocates and representatives of nonprofits gathered at the Albuquerque office of CHI St. Joseph’s Children to call for vigilance and action in intervening to prevent tragedies such as the recent spate of violent deaths of children. The “antidote” for these tragedies, they said, is getting all families with small children involved in home visiting programs.

On Friday, it was learned, the 8-year-old girl who was shot and critically injured in a Northeast Albuquerque home on Sunday died in a hospital.

The other victims included an 11-month-old girl who died under suspicious circumstances at a Northeast Heights motel on Tuesday, leading to the arrest of her father; a 5-year-old girl who police said was beaten to death on April 5 by her father in a Southeast Albuquerque apartment; and a 5-year-old boy who was smothered with a pillow on March 31 in Farmington, allegedly by his father, according to police there.

“We grieve the recent deaths,” said CYFD Cabinet Secretary Brian Blalock. “We, as a new leadership team, are constantly looking to learn from the mistakes of the past. The safety and welfare of the children and other victims is and will always be our first priority.”

CYFD in the release also said the Behavioral Healthcare Collaborative, a group of 15 state agencies working to improve the mental health of New Mexico’s children, met Thursday in Santa Fe to discuss recommendations for improving psychiatric care. The group is focusing on early screening, diagnoses and treatment.

“New Mexico’s kids were dealt a heavy blow when over a dozen health care providers were closed without notice in 2013,” Blalock said. “We are committed to contributing every way we can to rebuilding of the network of available doctors, therapists and counselors throughout the state.”

Source: Albuquerque Journal

Nonprofit leader takes role in CYFD development

Local nonprofit leader to take role in CYFD department by Albuquerque Business First Reporter


ALBUQUERQUE — Longtime nonprofit leader, a 2017 Business First Diverse Business Leaders honoree, takes on role with CYFD.

Amy Whitfield has stepped down as executive director of the Domestic Violence Resource Center after being named to the position in 2017.

In a letter to colleagues, Whitfield said she has been offered a role in the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department. CYFD confirmed with Business First that Whitfield has joined the agency. Whitfield could not be immediately reached for comment.

"While I am very sad to leave DVRC and the great work of anti-violence in small nonprofits; I am also extremely excited to take my work for community change to this larger level," Whitfield wrote in the letter. "It is a great time of reform and change in our state and I could not pass on the opportunity to be a part of changes for our children and our community."

The executive director is responsible for overseeing all facets of DVRC, including administration, finances, programs, grant compliance and strategic planning. Other key duties include fundraising, marketing, and community outreach, according to the executive director job posting.

There was no specific salary was listed for the position.

Whitfield, a longtime nonprofit leader, was a 2017 Business First Diverse Business Leaders honoree and judge for the 2018 Diverse Business Leader Awards. Before joining DVRC in August 2017, Whitfield was CEO of the New Mexico chapter of the Young Women's Christian Association for more than four years before joining the Domestic Violence Resource Center. The YWCA is a nonprofit whose mission is to "eliminate racism, empower women and promote peace, justice and dignity for all," according to previous Business First reporting.

The Domestic Violence Resource Center was an Albuquerque Business First nonprofit of the year honoree in 2015. That year the nonprofit said it provided $124,369 in out-of-state funding to 84 families, according to previous Business First reporting. In its job posting, DVRC said has approximately 20 employees and an annual budget of approximately $900,000.

The agency received $40,200 from United Way in 2016, according to Business First's United Way Allocations List.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham proposed an increase of $36.5 million to CYFD in her executive budget proposal for FY2020. In addition to the added funding, the governor called for another $3.9 million for 102 new positions in the CYFD Protective Services Division.

Source: BizJournals

Governor Lujan Grisham signs bill establishing Early Childhood Education and Care Dept.

Gov. Lujan Grisham signs Senate Bill 22 establishing Early Childhood Education and Care Department


SANTA FE – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Thursday signed Senate Bill 22, establishing a new Cabinet-level state department that will lead a unified expansion and transformation of early childhood education in New Mexico.

Surrounded by dozens of legislative leaders, sponsors and child welfare advocates, Gov. Lujan Grisham celebrated the forthcoming launch of the Early Childhood Education and Care Department, which will, in expanding program eligibility and transferring program management currently scattered across other departments, provide New Mexico families and children from birth through age five with consistent access to high-quality care and education services, to include early intervention, family support, early childhood special education and home visitation as well as early pre-kindergarten and pre-kindergarten.

Both chambers, with bipartisan support, overwhelmingly approved the legislation, sponsored by Sen. Michael Padilla.

“This new department is the vehicle,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said, “to arguably the most important turnaround we must and will make as a state in the coming years. Even while we occasionally disagree on the funding mechanisms, New Mexicans across the political spectrum agree on the importance of early childhood education. This department is an investment in our children, and thus in our shared future. It is an important step forward. We have many more steps to take, and I will continue to lead the push, and, on behalf of families across New Mexico, I’m grateful to legislators who put our shared principles into practice with this bill.”

“This is perhaps the most important thing that we have done in decades to turn around poverty and improve our economy here in New Mexico,” Sen. Padilla said. “By creating the Department of Early Childhood Education and Care we will see true consistency, accountability, and quality through the entire continuum of early education. I’d like to thank everyone who helped with this monumental effort, and extend a special appreciation to Governor Lujan Grisham for her support and recognition that the welfare of our state’s youngest and most vulnerable should be at the top of any priority list.”

“Every child deserves access to quality early childhood education to unlock their potential,” said co-sponsor Rep. Linda Trujillo. “As we work together to put our children first, the Early Childhood Education and Care Department will improve educational outcomes for our youngest. I am proud that this legislation will be signed into law so that all New Mexico students can truly succeed and thrive.”

Go to: Governor's Press Release

Governor’s New Cabinet Secretaries

Conversations with the state's new cabinet secretaries, By Searchlight Staff


SANTA FE — Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has made her commitment to children a mainstay of her next four years in office. By every metric, New Mexico is considered the worst state in the nation to be a child, and the governor has pledged that her administration will change that awful statistic.

Change begins with her newly appointed secretaries, those charged with affecting the lives of the state’s 517,000 kids. Searchlight New Mexico recently spoke with each one of them about how they intend to move the needle.

Mariana Padilla, Children's Cabinet. From foster parent to children’s czar.

Mariana Padilla supervises coordination between every department that touches on the lives of children in New Mexico. She is the newly appointed director of the Children’s Cabinet, a department that was reintroduced by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham after years of lying dismantled by her predecessor. It’s a position that wields great influence — not least because it affords direct access to the governor.

Padilla taught elementary school in the Albuquerque Public Schools. With a graduate degree in community planning, she headed Lujan Grisham’s New Mexico congressional office for six years. Padilla is the mother of three young girls, all of whom attend public school in Santa Fe. She grew up in the South Valley of Albuquerque, where her parents — both schoolteachers — still live.

Searchlight New Mexico: This job comes with a lot of excitement and a lot of expectations. Did you realize that going in?

Mariana Padilla: Absolutely. I understand how important it is, the responsibility it puts on me. And I’m really excited to have this job — especially for this governor. She’s made it very clear that we’re tackling the problems of children in this state, that we’re doing everything we can.

SNM: We’ve had a Children’s Cabinet before — under Gov. Bill Richardson — and it wasn’t all that effective. How will your cabinet be different?

Padilla: The first way it’s different is that this governor has elevated the position to the executive office.

SNM: You’re referring to the fact that the first Children’s Cabinet was assigned to the lieutenant governor’s office?

Padilla: Yes, that’s right. I’m in the governor’s office, working directly with her and the rest of the leadership team. We’ll be collaborating with community-based organizations and youth groups. This is not an initiative that’s done just by state government. This is about engaging all our partners and rebuilding those relations.

SNM: What has prepared you for this job?

Padilla: I’ve done many things in my life that brought me here. My husband and I were foster parents with CYFD [the state’s Children, Youth & Families Department]. I became interested when I was a teacher, I knew the challenges my students were going through, and I found it one of the best ways I could contribute on a very basic level to the children who most need it. It gave me an insight into our child protective-services system — what works and what doesn’t. It’s really one of the best things I’ve done.

SNM: It’s still early in your term, but is there something concrete you’ve already accomplished?

Padilla: I’ll tell you that HSD [Human Services Department] and CYFD are tackling updates to their IT systems, making sure they’re coordinating their efforts so they share data and take advantage of federal funding and resources.

Another example is the Preschool Development Grant. The state applied for a federal grant, and it was awarded $5.4 million for early learning in New Mexico. Over the next year, the Children’s Cabinet is going to work with all the agencies that oversee early childhood programs — CYFD, PED [Public Education Department], the Department of Health — to develop a statewide needs assessment for early learning.

SNM: A big problem is that many state agencies are deeply, almost tragically underfunded.

Padilla: That’s true. We have staffing shortages in each of our state agencies. That’s a challenge. When you don’t have enough people to do the work it’s difficult to do it at the level you really want it to be done. It’s in the executive budget to identify funding for CYFD to hire around 100 new employees.

SNM: A lot of the power of your job lies in the fact that you have the governor’s ear. Can you talk about your relationship with her?

Padilla: Our paths crossed in 2012 when she was running for Congress. I thought she was incredibly smart and that she had a very clear idea about what she wanted to accomplish. Plus, she was an Hispanic woman, which was also very special to me. When she won, I knew she was hiring — I went in and had a conversation with her. I didn’t even know what I was interviewing for.

We work well together and trust each other’s opinions. She’s one of the fiercest advocates I’ve ever seen.

SNM: Is there one issue that you see as the No. 1 priority?

Padilla: It’s all important. I think our investment in early learning, getting that right, is very important. I’m also very interested in our foster care system, looking at our children’s code, to make sure we’re doing things the best way possible. And bullying — the governor has made it very clear that that’s a priority.

SNM: You have three young daughters. Do they have advice for you in your new job?

Padilla: They have opinions about everything. And they have a sense of ownership. They are very aware that there are children who need help — whether it’s a home or access to health care or food. And as much as I’m working long hours, and they miss me, they have let me know that they also are aware that my work is important.


Karen Trujillo, Public Education Department. “In my new position what we’re trying to do is change the narrative of what it means to be a teacher."

Karen Trujillo, the newly appointed secretary of New Mexico’s Public Education Department, comes from a long line of teachers. She taught math at Las Cruces High School, served as principal at Las Cruces Catholic School, and was, until recently, the interim associate dean of research at New Mexico State University’s College of Education.

Across the state, she is perhaps best known for her advocacy work, encouraging young students to become teachers. It’s in that spirit that she served as state director of Educators Rising, a national organization for aspiring teachers. According to Trujillo’s own study, there were 1,173 educator vacancies last year. So she clearly has her work cut out for her.

Searchlight New Mexico: You have spoken publicly about how young people are actively discouraged from entering the teaching field — not just by their parents but by teachers and job counselors. Were you similarly discouraged?

Karen Trujillo: I was a math major in university, and I had most of my classes with engineering students. And I got lot of pushback: “Why don’t you become an engineer? Why do you want to be a teacher?” By that point I was pretty committed. I come from a family of teachers. My mom and three of her sisters were teachers. Five cousins and myself, we all ended up teachers.

SNM: One of the big problems, here and everywhere, is keeping good teachers in the classroom. You yourself left after eight years. What can be done to keep teachers engaged and satisfied?

Trujillo: My cousins have been in the classroom for 20 years and they’re still invigorated. I think the key to that longevity is having a network of colleagues. Plus always doing something new — to engage in continued learning.

SNM: Do you ever miss the classroom?

Trujillo: I do miss the classroom. But I was very intentional. I knew my goal was to transition to the university, but I didn’t want to be someone who hadn’t been in the classroom for 20 years. I wanted that reality check. So in 2010 I went back for a year to Alma [D’Arte Charter High School, in Las Cruces] and I really enjoyed it.

SNM: The state struggles with a huge number of teacher vacancies, especially in science, math, bilingual education and special ed. What are school districts supposed to do?

Trujillo: That’s the million-dollar question! At NMSU, we’re trying to figure out how to identify those students, especially in the STEM areas — biology, chemistry and math — where the students may be too far along in their degree work to change but already know they don’t want to work in a lab. So it’s a matter of identifying those students to say, “Hey have you ever thought of being a teacher?”

SNM: What can you do as PED secretary that you couldn’t do at NMSU?

Trujillo: In my new position what we’re trying to do is change the narrative of what it means to be a teacher. Instead of all the negative things, we want to focus on the fact that you can be creative, make a difference, give back to your community, and make a good living. At this level, it’s just changing the narrative — that teaching is a positive choice.

SNM: I recently read a statistic from the New Mexico Department of Health — that 50 of every 1,000 births in Socorro County are babies born with opioid dependency. How can the PED even begin to address a problem of this magnitude?

Trujillo: Drug abuse is an issue in New Mexico. Poverty is an issue. ACEs [adverse childhood experiences] are an issue. As awful as all that is, right now we are making an effort, not only in our department but across departments, to figure out how we can collaborate and work together. I think the creation of a new early childhood department will help us identify and respond early in a more coordinated effort. So much of the problem is not talking about it until it’s too late.

SNM: The Yazzie-Martinez lawsuit sought to address a lot of New Mexico’s educational failings. How will your department respond?

Trujillo: One of the things we’re very excited about is community schools, which would allow us to coordinate with cities, counties and nonprofits to provide wraparound services for kids through the schools. Our entire leadership team is based around that.

Another idea is fully funding and supporting the Indian Education Act. That means providing sufficient resources to native communities, honoring the identity of multicultural and multilingual aspects of those communities. To ask, what is important to you? And if the answer is to maintain their language, we can say, OK, here’s what we can do to help. To really engage communities to learn about their rich history. It goes back to that whole idea of changing the narrative — not just of being a teacher but what it means to be a New Mexican.

SNM: Countries with high-performing education systems typically pay their teachers a whole lot more than we do. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has proposed bumping up starting salaries to $40,000 for a beginning teacher. Is that enough?

Trujillo: The medium income in a lot of places in New Mexico, I believe, is in the mid-30s, so there are a lot of places where teachers are already the highest-paid professions. A $40,000 job is not easy to come by in New Mexico.


David Scrase, New Mexico Human Services Department. "The more people with health insurance, the healthier the population."

David Scrase, the new secretary of New Mexico’s Human Services Department, has worn many hats — and stethoscopes — during his career. A physician for more than 35 years, he’s divided his time between boosting the health of patients and boosting the vital signs of major healthcare organizations.

He started out as an internist, branched into geriatric medicine and practiced both at the University of New Mexico Medical School. Frequently voted one of New Mexico’s “top docs,” he’s also been one of its top dogs. Among other jobs, Scrase, 66, has been the executive vice president and chief operating officer of Presbyterian Healthcare Services, the state’s largest healthcare organization.

Today, he’s in perhaps the most challenging role of all. The stated goal of the Human Services Department (HSD) is to help New Mexicans break the cycle of poverty. The state’s Medicaid program, which HSD administers, serves some 800,000 low-income residents – about 40 percent of the population. HSD also runs the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and many other lifelines, including behavioral and mental health services.

How will Scrase improve New Mexico’s vital signs? How does he approach life? He answered these and other questions during an hour-long interview at his Santa Fe office.

Searchlight New Mexico: You started out in internal medicine. What made you switch to geriatrics?

David Scrase: Can I draw you something? [He goes to a large whiteboard and sketches a graph.] This is happiness over time, okay? [He draws a V-shape.] You start up here when you’re 18, and you’re pretty happy. And then the happiness goes down, down, down until about age 53. After that, it keeps going up and up and up as you get older.

In my geriatric practice, I basically take care of this group of happy people. I find them wise and thoughtful and kind, and not quite so irritable, and not really sweating the small stuff.

SNM: I’ve always heard that after 50, happiness levels go straight down.

Scrase: Well, that’s probably why you asked why I wanted to be a geriatrician.

SNM: The governor has been in the healthcare orbit for years. Is that how you first met?

Scrase: The governor has given me permission to mention the fact that I have taken care of people in her family, and still do. I still make house calls and patient visits. I’ve known her through those encounters. And she’s an expert in health care, so I’ve encountered her that way, too. I first met her about 20 years ago.

SNM: When the governor first offered you the HSD job, was there an issue that made you think: “Oh, boy, fixing that is going to be impossible?”

Scrase: My outlook on life doesn’t usually include the concept of impossible. I tend to think in terms of opportunities. I mean, there’s an opportunity here to touch the lives of half of New Mexicans, at minimum. It’s pretty incredible. And there’s an opportunity to make sure — as our governor would like us to do — that every person who deserves benefits or is eligible for benefits can get them, and as easily as possible.

The more people we can get health insurance coverage for, the healthier the population. Right now, we’re looking at ways to enroll some of the 83,000 adults who qualify for Medicaid, but are not enrolled. There’s been no advertising, there’s been no outreach, there’s really been no attempt to enroll more people in a publicly visible sort of way in eight years.

SNM: You give lectures sometimes on mindfulness. What does that mean for you?

Scrase: I have a meditation practice that’s been going on for probably 18 years.

SNM: What is your meditation like?

Scrase: I get up every morning, I sit quietly and I read and journal for 15 minutes. My wife and I meditate together and just try to [he inhales and exhales deeply] start the day.

I have this theory — other people have written books about it — that we each have this bucket that we bring to work or bring to our lives; it holds all the things we have to offer others. It’s my job to make sure that bucket is full every day before I leave the house, so that I have enough to share with others during the day.

SNM: Are there new approaches you’ll take to solve longstanding problems — the opioid epidemic, for example.

Scrase: I think there’s a stigma that goes along with any kind of addiction, and that’s a barrier to recovery. I think there’s this idea that folks with addiction issues just need to be more responsible or something. That kind of thinking has really been a barrier. What I’d like to do is to effectively reach out to people, identify them and help them seek care.

SNM: How do you broadcast that kinder, gentler message?

Scrase [smiling]:  That’s why you’re here.


Brian Blalock, Children, Youth & Families Department. "Would you make it on your own without help? Probably not."

With New Mexico’s deeply embedded problems of child poverty, trauma, and other barriers to child well-being, Brian Blalock, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s pick to lead the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department, is stepping into what is arguably the most consequential job in state government.

Blalock is entering the position after a career working on child welfare issues both as an attorney and, most recently, as the law and policy director of Tipping Point Community, a San Francisco nonprofit focused on poverty and homelessness.

Searchlight New Mexico: You’ve spent many years working on programs to end homelessness and pull families out of poverty. How will that work inform your approach to state government in New Mexico?

Brian Blalock: My past work has shown me that there's always opportunity to collaborate across organizations and agencies. That’s especially important when we’re talking about super vulnerable populations, like individuals experiencing homelessness and at-risk kids and families. The real solutions happen across departments.

That also should apply to our thinking within state agencies. Here in CYFD, we have Juvenile Justice, Protective Services, Early Childhood and other specialized silos all existing under one roof. That’s a fantastic opportunity—different silos exist so that we can give increased attention and increased specialization. If we can think strategically about coordinating and collaborating between those different silos and between different agencies like HSD and DOH, we can make a lot of progress.

Also, in my in my nonprofit work I’ve had the chance to see quite a few jurisdictions try out programs and approaches that could possibly make sense for New Mexico.

SNM: What programs and approaches specifically do you think are worth looking at here?

Blalock: I'll give you a few quick examples. One is this idea that if you really want to help super vulnerable, super traumatized youth, what you do is we have to build out community-based mental health services in a culturally competent way so that the youth and their families actually want to take advantage of them. We tend to make mental health services overly political and overly diagnostic at the front end, and we need to think about how to make those services actually attractive to youth as some states have done.

Another big one is extended foster care — extending the age that a youth is eligible for foster care services from 18 to 21. New Mexico is late to the game in looking at this, and it’s a program that has been shown to reduce homelessness, reduce incarceration and improve child well-being.

Think about where you were when you were 18. Would you have been able to be on your own without any help from your family, and been able to find your own housing, insurance and all that? For most people the answer is probably not—that’s a really tough spot to be in, yet that's what we do for our kids when the state is the parent.

SNM: But how would you convince an 18-year-old to stay in foster care if they have the option of making their own rules and living without strict supervision?

Blalock: Sounds crazy, right? But I think 36 states have implemented extended foster care in the country, and those states have consistently underestimated the number of kids who would choose to participate in it.

The key is to implement it the right way — and with youth input. If we do it here, we really need to have transition-age youth leaders who can be our experts, based on their own experiences, and provide us with genuine policy input. States that have gotten this right have really emphasized that youth voice piece.

And maybe it doesn’t look like a traditional foster home — maybe it looks like an apartment for example, but where the youth have access to support from case managers and social workers until they’re 21.

The federal government gives us an option to help fund this kind of project, and right now we’re not opted in. It’s something we should take a look at.

SNM: There is a bill currently in the Legislature that would create a separate Early Childhood Education and Care Department, apart from CYFD. Do you think that’s a good idea?

Blalock: Right now, early childhood is very well integrated into all of the different components of CYFD — behavioral health care, infant mental health, juvenile justice and other programs that are already in place — and these programs require a fair degree of sophistication and collaboration.

Regardless of whether we build another department, I think we need to ask ourselves what, at this point, are we doing well and what are we not doing well when it comes to early childhood services. If and when we do pull all of those services into a new department, we just have to be really mindful that we are not creating more silos in places where we don’t actually want them or need them.

All that to say, creating a new department is going to be an intimidating lift and we just have to be sure that we're solving more problems than we're causing.


Kathleen Kunkel, Department of Health. "Re-creating our community behavioral health system" a priority.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s pick to run the Department of Health is a New Mexico attorney with a resume stacked with posts at the department and experience in the field of health care. Kathleen “Kathy” Kunkel has worked at DOH for seven years, serving as general counsel and, most recently, as deputy director. She studied social work before law and worked for the University of New Mexico’s Health Sciences Center as a social worker for eight years prior to joining the Department of Health.

Kunkel says her first task is tackling problems in the division that is arguably the department’s most problematic: the Developmental Disabilities section, which is overwhelmed by a massive waiting list of families seeking services for their children. Kunkel spoke with Searchlight New Mexico in mid-February.

Searchlight New Mexico: What are your top three priorities for the Department of Health?

Kathleen Kunkel: It is abundantly clear to me that the priority for the Department of Health is the DD [Developmental Disability] waiver waiting list, which has 4,600 people waiting for services.

The Legislature and the executive branch have both asked for $1.5 million to create a supports waiver which would be more targeted to the needs of the people who are waiting. And the Department of Health has already begun developing some type of assessment tool, which will look at the individuals on the waiting list to see what is it that they really need. Conceivably, this waiver will offer a different array of services than the traditional waiver, and my directive is to get it done as soon as possible. It's also my intention to involve all the stakeholders — that would be advocates, families, the Legislature — so that we don't have a misstep and we produce something that everyone meets everyone's needs and will be successful.

SNM: New Mexico currently provides numerous DD services to a narrow population, rather than serving more people with fewer, targeted services. Can you explain the difference between a “supports” waiver versus the “traditional” waiver?

Kunkel: The short answer is I don't know what we're going do but I think there has to be consensus. Whatever we do with the traditional waiver has to be something that's carefully reviewed by all of the stakeholders, including the individuals who are on it. It’s not a simple problem. But I do not see the traditional waiver going away. I don't know what sort of service array we’ll be offering on the supports waiver, but we will have to make it attractive enough that people want to take advantage of it and not wait 13 years for their time on the traditional waiver. I don't want the public to be worried that their services are going to be cut. But what it looks like will not be a Department of Health decision alone.

SNM: What else is on your short list?

Kunkel: Rebuilding and re-creating our community behavioral health system. That is primarily the responsibility of the Human Services Department, but I share it. That is absolutely a priority.

SNM: What role should the Department of Health play in the opioid crisis, particularly in northern New Mexico? In Rio Arriba County right now — which has one of the highest rates of per capita addiction — there’s not even a detox center.

Kunkel: We have been approached by the Legislature to produce a comprehensive report on all of our efforts because there are many efforts being undertaken in the opioid crisis. And we have been approached by some legislators who are concerned about the lack of a detox center up there, as well. And I think all of those issues are being discussed in the session right now. In addition to that, the Department of Health is taking a position to add opiate addiction to the medical cannabis program; that will be heard in March under the administrative process.

SNM: There is a persistently high incidence of inadequate prenatal care among pregnant women in the border region. And when you look at the southwest border, New Mexico has some of the highest rates of inadequate prenatal care among the border states. How will the department address that disparity?

Kunkel: It is the southern counties in the state that we’re most concerned about. Their rate is below the national average for prenatal care. Age can have an impact on whether or not a woman seeks prenatal care, and if you’re under 20, the interest in perhaps concealing the pregnancy or not having Medicaid card or not having transportation impacts not seeking prenatal care. For women over 20, it can be the distance that someone has to travel to seek prenatal care and the long waits that they encounter.

The Department of Health is participating in a project called “Early Care, Strong Beginnings,” where, for women seeking a free pregnancy test, they’ll be given access to a web-based tool that helps them identify prenatal providers near them, provides them with referrals and practical information about accessing those services. That is a hopeful intervention. The Department of Health will be collecting data to determine how many of those women get prenatal care in the first trimester and how many had an appointment within the first three weeks of that pregnancy confirmation.


CYFD’s New Cabinet Secretary!

New Cabinet Secretary brings new vision to CYFD by Santa Fe New Mexican


SANTA FE — Meet visionary tasked with transforming CYFD.

In a slightly rumpled blue-gray suit and sneakers, the man with the recognizable red beard directed traffic — a steady stream of men and women in sharper suits, with laptops, all gathering behind various closed doors.

Brian Blalock, the new Cabinet secretary of New Mexico’s Children, Youth and Families Department, ducked in and out of conference rooms in his office on the fifth floor of the PERA Building. It’s been the norm since he started the job five weeks ago, he would say in an interview later at a nearby coffee shop.

“Oh, man,” he said over a cup of tea, “20-hour days. Not a lot of sleep.”

Blalock — a lawyer, policymaker, educator and youth advocate with numerous degrees from some of the nation’s most elite schools — was chosen by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to lead a child welfare agency that her transition team found was in need of an overhaul.

The review by the transition team cites lawsuits against the agency, low morale among staff, persistent staffing shortages, an investigation backlog more than 2,000 cases deep and, most troubling, “preventable” child deaths that “have been normalized in the agency.”

In a state that leads the nation in child poverty and is dead last in many education measures, Blalock, 43, heads a massive agency that not only provides child protective services and foster care, but also administers child care benefits, licenses private day care centers and preschools, and oversees behavioral health services for children and teens.

Wait, there’s more: The department also operates juvenile justice facilities.

Previously a policy director for a San Francisco nonprofit, building public programs for homeless youth, Blalock — confirmed by the state Senate, with a salary of $128,000 a year — is not a typical state department leader.

He’s an outsider — both to New Mexico and politics.

“It was a bold choice,” said Ezra Spitzer, executive director of the Albuquerque-based New Mexico Child Advocacy Network, a nonprofit that serves youth who have been in the state’s foster care and juvenile justice systems. “He’s one of us … a reformer.”

15 questions

Blalock said he was hesitant to pursue the position when Lujan Grisham reached out to him.

“The first thing I thought was, ‘No, this sounds like a terrible idea,’ ” he said. “I’m not a very public person. I don’t do politics. I’m just not interested in that. I’m a problem solver.”

Blalock’s wife, attorney and social worker Linnea Forsythe, also had reservations.

Among her concerns was a move to the high desert, far from the Pacific Coast.

A Native Hawaiian woman, Forsythe comes from a line of “real water people,” her husband said.

“When I let her know I was looking at a job in New Mexico seriously,” he said, “she just texted me back the distance Santa Fe was from the Pacific Ocean.”

The couple made two agreements, he said. The first: Each had to determine independently whether a move to New Mexico was the right decision. “She has a career and she’s amazing and she helps lots of kids,” Blalock said.

“Our second agreement was that if she moves here and she doesn’t find work that’s impactful … we leave.”

Forsythe, who was busy packing up her Bay Area apartment on Saturday, said she was looking forward to relocating to New Mexico, a state she described as “absolutely gorgeous.”

She acknowledged the fast pace of her husband’s work in the first few weeks, amid an administration change and a busy legislative session: “This seems like a sprint right out of the gate.”

But, she said, Blalock is a high-energy man who is committed to creatively and collaboratively crafting solutions to big problems — “and doing the really hard work in order to get there.”

Before Blalock met with the governor, he made a list of questions for her.

“Those 15 questions were intended to gauge how serious she was at making CYFD a priority,” Blalock said. “How serious was she at making children a priority? How much leeway was she going to give me? How much support was she going to give me to actually make an impact?”

He brought the list into his first meeting with Lujan Grisham and sat down across from her.

“And she started talking,” he said. “I didn’t get a word in for maybe 10 minutes.”

But, he said, without having seen his questions, the governor “answered almost all of them with that opening monologue. … And so that convinced me: OK. This is serious.”

Lujan Grisham praised Blalock, saying: “Brian stood out to us in our search process for his diverse experience, his commitment to improving child welfare in the face of stark obstacles, and his experience in legislative matters in California.

“I’m excited about his tenure,” the governor continued, “because he represents a fresh set of eyes, a sharp set of eyes, and we need leadership that’s prepared to take a holistic view and start rebuilding from the ground up at CYFD.”

A résumé of service

Blalock grew up in southwest Virginia — the edge of Appalachia, he said — and has lived and worked on both coasts, focusing on disadvantaged children, teens and young adults.

He has degrees from four universities: James Madison in Harrisonburg, Va., where he received a bachelor’s in philosophy and English; Harvard, where he earned a master’s in theology; Columbia, where he obtained a second master’s in South Asian studies; and Stanford, where he received a law degree.

One of his first jobs, in 2000, was a teaching position at a high school in the Bronx, N.Y.. He was hired to teach English, he said, but the duties quickly piled up at the impoverished school as other teachers left. He led a Saturday science initiative and developed an after-school leadership program with an eclectic mix of studies, according to his résumé: literacy, public speaking, boxing and capoeira, a Brazilian style of martial arts.

“Loved it,” he said of the teaching job. “Would probably still be there, except they closed my school down.”

His next position was at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Cambridge, Mass., where he developed curriculum for youth with HIV.

After attending Stanford Law School, Blalock began a legal career serving youth in Oakland, Calif., and throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.

He spent a decade at Bay Area Legal Aid, representing young people in the juvenile justice system, chronically homeless youth and kids with disabilities. He developed a program that worked to ensure youth in need were able get housing, Medicaid and other benefits. It also oversaw abuse and guardianship cases.

He looked to youth to guide the program, Blalock said. “They really taught us what they needed, and then we did it.”

Bay Area Legal Aid Executive Director Genevieve Richardson, a social justice attorney who has been with the organization for 18 years and stepped into its top job a year ago, worked with Blalock. “He’s had a tremendous impact stabilizing the lives of young people and their families,” she said.

In his most recent position, as law and policy director for Tipping Point Community, a San Francisco nonprofit, he worked to end homelessness among the city’s young people by building housing and support services. Once again youth were at the center of program development. The organization hired seven young members of a policymaking team.

“They were our guides,” Blalock said.

And after six weeks of training, the teens and young adults found peers in need of services and managed their cases.

It’s essential for social services organizations to ensure they are “being really responsive to the folks who are on the ground, who are experts in how systems don’t work,” Blalock said.

“Because if we only talk to people who know how systems work,” he said, “we get really cool ideas and we don’t actually fix it for people who are suffering, which should be our priority all the time. So we sound smart, but we don’t get anything done.”

Spitzer, with NMCAN, gets that. His organization mentors teens and young adults who have been in the foster care system and trains them to draft legislation and lobby for changes that would improve the lives of other foster kids.

Some of the young people from NMCAN have met with Blalock about legislation they are pushing, Spitzer said, and he has become engaged in their work, such as an effort to extend foster care beyond the age of 18 for youth who want extra support.

“We’ve had very good experiences with Brian,” Spitzer said. “… There’s an easiness about him that they liked.”

Asked whether he thought Blalock could succeed in transforming the Children, Youth and Families Department, Spitzer said, “We could not have a picked a more perfect vision for New Mexico.”

But, he added, “No one can do it alone.”

Blalock will need a strong team at the agency,” he said, as well as continued support from the governor, the Legislature and the community.

Long days, daunting problems

Albuquerque civil rights attorney J. Kate Girard, who began working Monday as the department’s chief counsel, said, “I think he’s the real deal.”

Blalock is equally impressed with Girard, one the few people he has brought in. Last week, he still had no spokesperson and no deputy secretary. He was answering his own phone calls and texts, sometimes late at night or in the early hours of the morning.

“Hopefully, as we keep building our team, it will be full of awesome,” he said.

The work won’t be easy, Blalock said.

“Some of the problems are huge,” he acknowledged. “Some of them are daunting.”

And he knows his job will never be comfortable.

“Every time something bad happens to a kid anywhere in the state of New Mexico,” Blalock said, “it will be my fault. But I’m OK with that.

“Because we have to do better. All of us. … If it helps to have someone who is responsible for that — great. As long as we all agree that we can all be doing better.”

Source: Santa Fe New Mexican

Gov. Lujan Grisham releases executive budget proposal

CYFD budget increase to fund more than 100 Protective Services positions


SANTA FE — Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Thursday released her first budget proposal ahead of the 2019 legislative session scheduled to begin next week.

The fiscal year 2020 executive recommendation represents the governor’s steadfast commitment to a transformed New Mexico, a thriving state where responsible, forward-thinking investments are made in public education and educators, early childhood education and education initiatives targeted at vulnerable and at-risk communities, local economic development, workforce training programs, health services, early intervention and staffing at the Children, Youth and Families Department.

“We are taking the steps to put our priorities into policy,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said. 

The budget proposal includes the following:

  • ​An overall general fund recurring budget of $7.1 billion, a 13 percent increase with a 25 percent general fund reserve target. 
  • ​More than $500 million in additional funding for public education, a true moonshot for New Mexico’s students, educators, parents and communities, which includes a 6 percent pay increase for teachers, principals and education personnel and a raise in tiered minimum salaries as well as minimum salaries for principals and a minimum wage increase for all education personnel to $12 an hour; $113 million to increase the at-risk index in the funding formula to provide for low-income students, minority students, English language learners and students with disabilities; $60 million for increasing the number of pre-kindergarten slots, the number of high-quality Pre-K educators, and financial aid for early childhood educators; $6 million for the Indian Education Fund; and $5 million for a program to support educators who have had to fund classroom supplies out of pocket, among numerous other new or enhanced funding initiatives that will boost student achievement and learning environments.
  • ​A substantially increased investment in the Local Economic Development Act, to $75 million, as well as investments in the Job Training Incentive Program, tourism marketing initiatives, Main Street and other economic development and workforce programs.
  • ​A $36.5 million increase in the CYFD budget, including almost $4 million to fund more than 100 new Protective Services positions.
  • ​Significant investments in health services, among them $27 million for Centennial Care enrollment and utilization growth; a $6.3 million increase for early intervention services in the Family, Infant and Toddler program; and increases to support behavioral health services within the Corrections Department as well as enhanced care coordination between group health homes across the state.
  • ​One-time funds to repay the entirety of the state’s film rebate backlog.
  • ​Tiered salary increases of 4 percent for state employees making less than $25,000; 3 percent for those making $25,000 to $50,000; 2 percent for those making more than $50,000; and an across-the-board minimum wage increase for state employees to $12 an hour.

​​Attached to this release is a file including a more thorough rundown of highlights of Gov. Lujan Grisham’s executive recommendation from the Department of Finance and Administration. 

The governor’s full budget is linked and available for review here.

CYFD unveils its new Children’s Wellness Center


ALBUQUERQUE – Children, Youth and Families Department opens new Children’s Wellness Center.

The state Children, Youth and Families Department unveiled its new Children’s Wellness Center on Thursday, part of its efforts to get all of its Albuquerque services onto a single campus.

The wellness center is part of a complex at Indian School Road just east of Carlisle that also contains a new Children’s Receiving Center and offices for the agency’s Statewide Central Intake.

On Thursday, CYFD Cabinet Secretary Monique Jacobson and Gov. Susana Martinez toured the new campus, a cluster of five former office buildings that will provide 230,000 square feet of space.

“We expect a lot of the people who work at CYFD, and we will continue to do so, but we have to give them the tools. We have to give them the workplace to do the absolute best for the kids of New Mexico,” Martinez said.

The new Receiving Center, which is about 13,000 square feet, was designed so kids who come into custody “have a warm, beautiful environment to wait while we’re looking for a foster placement, so they don’t have to sit in offices, or if they arrive in the middle of the night they’re not sleeping under desks,” said Jacobson.

“It’s a place where they are treated with the love and care and respect that all kids in our custody deserve.”

The ultimate goal of the project is to relocate all of CYFD’s Albuquerque operations, now in three separate buildings, to one location, explained Jacobson.

Phase One of the project, funded by a $20 million allocation from the state Legislature, covers the purchase of the property, renovation of the three of the buildings, and the cost of relocating all the services from CYFD’s building on San Mateo north of Central Ave., said Jacobson.

She noted that the 20-year lease on the San Mateo building expires at the end of the year.

About 400 employees are part of the Phase One move, which is expected to be complete by the end of January.

The move involves the relocation of Juvenile Justice field workers, half of Protective Service operations, the CYFD Training Academy, Statewide Central Intake, and a bigger and better equipped Receiving Center for children.

The Receiving Center contains a laundry room, showers, lockers, cots, a clothing exchange area, playrooms, quiet rooms where kids can decompress, a backpack wall where kids can select a backpack containing stuffed animals, writing journals, coloring books and other comfort items, and improved visitation space for families working to reunify with their children.

The Receiving Center building also houses larger space for Statewide Central Intake, which is open 24-hours a day, seven days a week, and fields about 40,000 calls a year from around the state concerning abuse and neglect. About 20 employees staff the phones at any given time in overlapping shifts.

“We also installed a completely upgraded phone system,” Jacobson said. “One of my big concerns is for people who build up the courage to call, and then the phone call gets dropped, or they’re waiting on hold and they don’t know how long the wait will be” so they may not stay on the line.

Jacobson said that she has requested $29 million from the state Legislature to complete the renovations to the rest of the campus and the relocation from the other two CYFD Albuquerque buildings.

Pursuing that will have to be the job of the next administration and CYFD secretary. Jacobson leaves office at the end of the year.

“A building is not going to solve all of the issues that we have,” said Jacobson, “but having a beautiful space for our children, our workers and our families does matter. It will bring a sense of dignity to all those who step onto this campus.”

Martinez recalled that she began working with CYFD 32 years ago as an attorney.

“The heart and passion of every social worker was there, but there was very little money, the buildings were dilapidated, children were sleeping under desks with blankets because it took hours and hours of phone calls at 2 a.m. Car seats? Didn’t even exist,” she said.

Inevitably, some kids who enter CYFD custody when they’re little end up later in the juvenile justice system, Martinez said. But having all of CYFD’s services in a single campus will allow easier communication and collaboration between the various components of the department and make it easier to “break that cycle.”

Martinez also said she was proud of the fact that, since she became governor in 2011, about 2,500 children have been adopted “and are now living in forever homes.”

CYFD app helps families sign up for child care program

By Las Cruces Sun News


ALBUQUERQUE - On Monday, the state Children, Youth and Families Department formally will launch an app, allowing families for the first time to apply for the Childcare Assistance program online.

The intention is to make it easier and faster for eligible families to get the application process started.

"Childcare Assistance is one the greatest tools we have in the fight to improve the quality of life for children in New Mexico," said CYFD Cabinet Secretary Monique Jacobson. "We all too often see that tragedies occur when parents leave their children with an inappropriate caretaker or when parents themselves reach a breaking point."

Childcare Assistance also allows parents to leave their children in a safe place while they work or go to school, and child care centers provide an additional level of oversight to "ensure these children's basic needs are being met, " Jacobson said.

CYFD got an economic boost during the last legislative session with the allocation of an additional $25 million.

"Childcare Assistance is a program that will help us break the cycle of poverty that occurs when our parents are unable to work or go to school," she said.

In the past few years, CYFD has increased participation in the Childcare Assistance program by more than 4,000 additional children.

But there is still work to be done, Jacobson said.

Currently, less than one-third of those eligible for Childcare Assistance take advantage of it. By adding the online application to the website, which has been accessed by more than 100,000 people, CYFD expects ever more families to sign up for the program.

To apply for Childcare Assistance online or to get more information on other services parents may be eligible for, go to

Source: Las Cruces Sun News

NM Launches Statewide Juvenile Justice Improvement Initiative

Initiative Geared to Help Strengthen Public Safety and Improve Outcomes for New Mexico’s Youth


ALBUQUERQUE -- Today, New Mexico Supreme Court Justice Barbara J. Vigil joined Children, Youth and Families Secretary Monique Jacobson, and leaders from all three branches of government to announce the launch of the Juvenile Justice Improvement Initiative Taskforce which will perform a comprehensive review of New Mexico’s juvenile justice system in an effort to strengthen public safety and improve outcomes for youth in the state.

“Through this task force we hope to assess how state and local resources are being used to create better outcomes for the youth who are in our juvenile system,” Gov. Martinez said.  “Ensuring Public safety is also very important and is something that will also be assessed through this task force.”

The Juvenile Justice Improvement Initiative Taskforce’s goal is to build upon New Mexico’s accomplishments, and further improve the juvenile justice system to ensure that, youth outcomes are improving and that state and local resources are being used most effectively.

“This comprehensive, data-driven review provides us with an unprecedented opportunity to conduct a thoughtful review of the juvenile justice system,” Justice Vigil said. “I look forward to working with my fellow committee members to make sure we are using resources to make our system more effective and fair and better serve the needs of youth and families.”

The state initiative intends to build on juvenile justice policy changes in recent years that shrank the population of youth referred to the juvenile justice system by nearly 50 percent from 2009 to 2016. Over that period, the number of youth disposed to probation declined by 55 percent, and the average daily population of youth in Children, Youth & Facilities Division facilities declined by 12 percent. 

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) chose New Mexico as one of only two states in the country to receive technical assistance through the Improving Outcomes for Youth (IOYouth): A Statewide Juvenile Justice Initiative, which includes lawmakers, judges, state and local juvenile justice leaders and law enforcement.  Secretary Jacobson and Justice Vigil will co-chair the Committee.

“Ensuring that our youth have all the tools that they need to succeed is our highest purpose,” Secretary Jacobson said. “Through the research gathered from this Initiative, all three government branches will work together to strengthen our system and find new ways to improve what we do. This will require a coordinated effort, and we’re excited to already have the commitment of the three branches here today to get something done.”

Under the guidance of the inter-branch Committee, The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, will conduct the analysis of New Mexico’s juvenile justice system and report back to the Committee in order to develop policy changes with state leaders. Those policy considerations will be introduced to the New Mexico Legislature in early 2018.

Members of the task force include:

  • CYFD Cabinet Secretary Monique Jacobson, Co-chair
  • NM Supreme Court Justice Barbara J. Vigil, Co-chair
  • State Representative Monica Youngblood
  • State Representative Patricio Ruiloba
  • State Representative Gail Chasey
  • State Senator Gay Kernan
  • Office of the Governor Cabinet Director Lancing Adams
  • Judge Freddie Romero – 5th Judicial District
  • Judge Marie Ward – 2nd Judicial District
  • Judge Roshanna Toya – Pueblo of Isleta
  • 2nd Judicial District Attorney Raul Torres
  • 1st Judicial Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Padgett
  • Chief Public Defender Ben Baur
  • CYFD Juvenile Justice Dept. Deputy Director Nick Costales
  • Department of Public Safety Deputy Cabinet Secretary Amy Orlando
  • Public Education Department Cabinet Secretary Hanna Skandera
  • Grace Phillips, New Mexico Association of Counties
  • Sharon Stover, JJAC Chair
  • Craig Sparks, Director of Bernalillo County Youth sServices Center
  • Traci Neff, San Juan County Juvenile Administrator
  • Amber Hamilton, County Manager of Roosevelt County
  • Sheriff Britt Snyder of Chaves County

New Mexico a National Leader in Providing Child Care Assistance (NM Child Care Data Report)

Investments in Early Childhood Paying off for Kids and Families


SANTA FE -- Governor Susana Martinez announced today that New Mexico is a national leader in providing child care assistance to kids. According to the first annual New Mexico Child Care Data Report from the University of New Mexico’s Center for Education Policy and Research, New Mexico is ranked 10th in the country when it comes to providing child care assistance to all eligible children and first in the country when it comes to providing child care assistance to eligible Hispanic children.

“Expanding opportunities for early childhood learning is one of our top priorities – because every New Mexico child deserves a chance to succeed,” Governor Martinez said. “Our goal is to make New Mexico the best place to be a kid. And though we still have a lot of work to do, we’re making progress and we won’t quit fighting for our children.”

Governor Martinez and her administration have steadily increased investment in early childhood spending by more than $55 million, serving more than 27,000 kids a year. Additionally, through various community and federal partnerships, New Mexico's Children, Youth, and Families Department (CYFD) invested more than $97 million in the last fiscal year in child care alone. New Mexico is also a national leader in outreach to bring child care and early childhood opportunities to Hispanic families.

Among other highlights of the report, nearly 90 percent of families receiving child care assistance reported that it enabled them to work. Seven percent reported they were able to enroll in school, and six percent that it enabled both. Across the board, New Mexico’s investments in early childhood opportunities are making life better for New Mexico’s kids and families.

“Child care plays a major role in our effort to improve the quality of life for our children, as well as in preventing child abuse and neglect,” said CYFD Secretary Monique Jacobson. “This report is a result of the successful collaboration between CYFD and many of our state and community partners, providers and advocates who all have the same goal to improve the quality of life for all New Mexico children.”

This ranking comes on the heels of the National Institute for Early Education Research’s May 2016 ranking showing New Mexico improved 10 spots in funding for early childhood education, moving to 18th in the country. In the fall of 2015, CYFD convened a working group to look for ways to improve the quality of and access to child care assistance, early childhood education, and other learning opportunities for New Mexico’s kids. The child care data report was produced by the working group, consisting of child care providers and professional associations, children’s advocates, state and local leaders and other stakeholders.

CYFD Launches Online Tool to Help Families Determine their Eligibility for Services


SANTA FE -- The New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD) has launched an online family services tool to help families determine their eligibility for services they may need, such as child care assistance and PreK. The tool, called “Am I Eligible?,” is accessible through the website and allows families to see what services they’re eligible for.

"Our online family services tool is a great example of how government agencies and non-profits can work together to help our families find the services they need," said Governor Susana Martinez. "By creating this tool, we’re giving families the opportunity to learn more about our programs and how they can sign up for them -- all at the click of a button.”

The tool was created by CYFD in partnership with the Department of Health and non-profit organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club. It allows families to determine their potential eligibility for programs such as child care assistance, PreK, home visiting, Head Start, the Family Infant Toddler Program, Summer Food Program and the Boys and Girls Club. 

The anonymous survey takes about two to four minutes to complete. Families enter basic information such as the number of children in their home, the children’s ages, and the family’s income to help determine what programs the family may be eligible for. Based on the info, families will be able to see what services are available to them. Afterward, they can sign up at their local CYFD child care office or get more information online about the other family service programs that they have been determined eligible for. 

"'Am I Eligible?' represents how we are leveraging technology to better educate families on what programs are available to them and if they would qualify," said CYFD Cabinet Secretary Monique Jacobson. "And the great news is that we are still working to pull together with more partners to expand this function to include even more programs as well as to have online applications for these programs in the future."

CYFD is currently working to enlist other agencies and non-profits to include on the “Am I Eligible?” tool.  The department is also working on an extension to the tool that would allow families to complete an online application for these programs and submit it via the web or mobile application for child care acceptance. The goal is to have this function available by 2018.

The “Am I Eligible?” family services screening tool can be accessed in both English and Spanish by visiting on a computer or mobile device.

Gov. Martinez Announces Extended, Year-Long Eligibility for Child Care Assistance


SANTA FE -- Governor Susana Martinez today announced extended, year-long eligibility for child care assistance for families in need. With today’s change, more families will be able to keep kids enrolled in high-quality child care programs for a longer period of time without having to reapply.

Families will now be able to maintain eligibility for child care assistance for 12 consecutive months before needing to reapply. Previously, the longest eligibility certification period was six months. This change will help reduce temporary lapses in eligibility due to work, school, or other life circumstances, allowing more kids and families to continue accessing high-quality child care.

“High-quality child care is an important part of giving our kids and families the best chance to succeed,” Governor Martinez said. “By making it easier for families who need these valuable services to stay enrolled, we’ll help improve the quality of life for more New Mexico kids.”

Children, Youth, and Families Department data shows that kids and families participating in child care assistance can be 50 percent less likely to be involved in abuse or neglect. 

“Right now, less than one-third of those who may be eligible for child care assistance take advantage of this valuable program,” said CYFD Cabinet Secretary Monique Jacobson. “Child care assistance is an important tool to reduce abuse and neglect. We want more New Mexico families to participate, which will reduce the number of families that may be leaving their kids with inappropriate caretakers.”

Earlier this year, Governor Martinez also announced a $3.5 million expansion of New Mexico’s Early PreK pilot program, bringing the total investment to more than $10.5 million over the last two years. Since 2011, Governor Martinez has increased child care assistance program funding by more than $17 million. Over the same time period, early childhood funding at CYFD has grown by more than $55 million, now serving more than 25,000 New Mexico children annually.

In May, the National Institute for Early Education Research released a State of PreK report showing New Mexico improved 10 spots in rankings for funding for early childhood education, moving to 18th in the nation.

CYFD has also launched a program to provide child care assistance to more at-risk families -- those who’ve had multiple interactions with the department’s Protective Services Division.

For more information on child care assistance and the 12-month contract certification, call (800) 832-1321 or visit to find a list of regional child care assistance offices in your area.

TV Ads Encourage New Mexicans to Report Child Abuse

Suspected Abuse, Maltreatment, and Neglect Easily Reported by Dialing #SAFE


ALBUQUERQUE -- Governor Susana Martinez today unveiled a series of ads to encourage New Mexicans to report suspected child abuse, maltreatment, or neglect. The ads, in both English and Spanish, call on all New Mexicans to join the fight against child abuse by reporting suspected child abuse and neglect to CYFD by dialing #SAFE. 

“Oftentimes, when I was a prosecutor, it wasn’t until after a tragedy that family members, friends, teachers, pastors, and coaches realized that something was wrong. But when they connected the dots, it was too late,” Governor Martinez said. “Here in New Mexico, we all have the responsibility to report child abuse. With these ads, we will continue to spread the word on how to help speak for our kids that need it the most.”

The Governor introduced #SAFE in 2011. It’s a hotline that makes it easier for New Mexicans to support suspected child abuse, maltreatment, or neglect. Calls go directly to CYFD's State Central Intake (SCI) unit. From there, a trained operator fields the call and asks for as much information as possible. The calls are then immediately reviewed by a supervisor, and shared with the county office where the child resides.

Since the introduction of #SAFE, CYFD has received a yearly average of 35,000 phone calls to their state-wide reporting system. This is an increase of about 4,000 calls a year compared to 2010. Of the 35,000 calls, close to 20,000 meet the criteria to be screened-in for further investigation.

“It is very important that if New Mexicans suspect that the abuse or neglect of a child is occurring that they contact #SAFE,” said Children, Youth, and Families Department Secretary Monique Jacobson. “No one agency, provider, or person can help our children alone. It is up to all of us to pull together to improve the quality of life for our children.”

The ads are the latest element of the Pull Together community engagement effort, which Governor Martinez recently announced to help make New Mexico the best place to be a kid. To report suspected child abuse or neglect, New Mexicans can dial #SAFE from their cell phones or dial 1-855-333-7233 (SAFE) from any phone. For information on possible signs of child abuse or neglect, or more on how to find support, resources, or other ways to help make New Mexico the best place to be a kid, visit

Governor Martinez Expands Investment in Early PreK Pilot Program

More than $10 Million Invested in NM Early PreK in Two Years


SANTA FE -- Governor Susana Martinez today announced an additional $3.5 million investment in New Mexico’s Early PreK pilot program, bringing the total investment to more than $10.5 million over the last two years.

“In New Mexico, we’re committed to giving our kids a head start in their education because no matter their background, every child can learn,” Governor Martinez said. “Expanding our investment in this important program helps us ensure that more of our kids start school prepared to learn.”

Through this expansion, access to Early PreK will now be available at seven child care centers in Eddy, Lea, Luna, Santa Fe, and Torrance Counties. The additional funding also allows Bernalillo, Dona Ana, Rio Arriba, San Juan, and Valencia counties to expand access to 22 additional sites from last year. Together, the expansion will serve more than 530 more New Mexico children with access to Early PreK.

The Early PreK pilot program, which began in July 2015, provides voluntary early childhood education opportunities to 3-year-olds who are not yet eligible for New Mexico PreK. Governor Martinez’s administration has invested more than $10.5 million in Early PreK over the last two years. Due to the Governor’s continued expansion of the program, 51 childcare centers in 16 counties are now offering Early PreK to nearly 1,000 New Mexico children.

“Through Governor Martinez’s leadership, we’re more than doubling the number of 3-year-olds who have access to Early PreK in New Mexico,” said Children, Youth, and Families Department Cabinet Secretary Monique Jacobson. “Targeted investments like this will help us continue to improve the quality of life of our children.”

In May, the National Institute for Early Education Research released a State of PreK report showing New Mexico improved 10 spots in rankings for funding for early childhood education, moving to 18th in the nation.

13.6 Million Meals Served to NM Kids through Summer Food Program Since 2011

Number Expected to Exceed 16 Million in 2016


ALBUQUERQUE -- Today, Governor Susana Martinez announced that the state’s summer food program has served more than 13.6 million nutritious meals to New Mexico’s children since 2011. The Governor also kicked off the program for the 2016 summer. The program is run by CYFD, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Public Education Department.

“Providing nutritious meals to New Mexico’s children during the summer months fuels their bodies and minds while they are not in school,” said Governor Martinez. “It is such an important program for our communities, and I encourage parents to pull together for our kids to get them out to the summer food sites.”

New Mexico is a national leader in providing meals to low-income children. Last year, the Food Research and Action Center ranked New Mexico the No. 1 state for serving meals to low-income children over the summer months.

Since taking office, Governor Martinez has significantly expanded the summer food program. Since 2011, 13.6 million meals have been served to New Mexico children through CYFD and PED. This summer, that number is expected to exceed 16 million meals.

“Ensuring that our children have access to high-quality meals during the summer months goes a long way toward improving their quality of life,” said CYFD Cabinet Secretary Monique Jacobson. “Through the continued efforts of our communities to be a part of these summer food programs, thousands of children and youth will continue to benefit both mentally and physically this summer from these free nutritious meals.”

Last year alone, over 2.9 million meals were served to New Mexico children at over 900 statewide meal sites throughout the state. This year, it is expected that close to 3 million meals will be served with an estimated 700,000 of those meals being served in the Albuquerque area.

The summer food program serves free meals to all children aged 18 years and younger, and is funded nationally by the USDA. USDA Special Nutrition Programs Director Eddie Longoria joined Governor Martinez for the announcement.

The Summer Food Programs begins today and runs until August. To locate a participating meal site, or for more information on the Summer Food Program, parents can call 1-800-EAT-COOL (1-800-328-2665) or visit

Governor Martinez Announces “Pull Together” Community Engagement Effort

Effort Connects New Mexicans in Need to Resources; Encourages Community to Find Ways to Help


RIO RANCHO, N.M. -- Today, Governor Susana Martinez and CYFD Secretary Monique Jacobson unveiled “Pull Together,” a community engagement effort that calls on New Mexicans to join the fight in improving the quality of life for every child and making our state the best place to be a kid. The effort includes connecting New Mexicans in need to resources in their communities and around the state, while also helping those who want to make a difference find ways to help. 

“As Governor, I will never stop fighting to improve the lives of our children, and I believe that is something that every New Mexican can get behind,” Governor Martinez said. “That is why it's so important that we all pull together – as neighbors, family, and fellow New Mexicans – to make our state the best place to be a kid. Because at the end of the day, we owe it to our children to give them the brightest future possible.”

The main focus of the effort is to encourage communities to play a role in improving the quality of life of every child – whether that’s learning how to be a better parent or finding ways to help another family. 

The Pull Together effort will direct New Mexicans in need to various resources available through state and local agencies, businesses, and nonprofits. This includes where to find low-cost child care assistance, free summer meals, substance abuse and behavioral health treatment and services, and tips on how to keep children safe. 

The effort will also serve as a resource to help New Mexicans who want to make a difference in their community. This includes adopting or fostering a child, donating a backpack to a child in need, reporting child abuse or neglect, or even applying for a job at CYFD. 

“It is important that New Mexicans know that to improve the quality of life for our children one agency cannot do this alone,” said CYFD Cabinet Secretary Monique Jacobson. “It takes all New Mexicans working together and helping each other, to make a true difference in the lives of our children regardless of existing challenges in our state.” 

Pull Together will provide a multi-pronged approach to reach New Mexicans who need support or want to help. Information is available online through, literature, and through a resource and referral line. In addition, television and newspaper ads will run statewide to raise awareness of the program and encourage people to get involved. For more information on how to find support, resources, or ways to help out in your community, New Mexicans can visit or call 1-800-691-9067.

Governor Martinez Announces Expansion of Child Care Services


ALBUQUERQUE -- Today, Governor Susana Martinez announced that hundreds more lowincome families will now have access to child care services through CYFD at an affordable cost. The Governor announced that the Child Care Assistance Program, which serves nearly 18,000 families, will expand its eligibility requirements through the end of May.

Now, New Mexico families earning as much as 200 percent of the federal poverty line – an increase from the previous 150 percent – may apply for the child care assistance program. This includes more than 750 families who had previously applied but were put on a waiting list because their income was slightly over the eligibility requirement.

For example, a family of four earning around $48,600 or less a year is now eligible. Before the expansion, the same family earning more than around $36,000 a year would have been ineligible for the services.

“Taking care of our most vulnerable will always be one of our top priorities,” Governor Martinez said. “With this expansion, we will be providing safe and reliable child care to more families who need it the most. This program is one of our most important resources for helping to prevent child abuse, and I encourage New Mexico families who need it to apply for our child care assistance.”

Since 2011, Governor Martinez has increased Child Care Assistance program funding by more than $14 million. In addition, the Governor has increased eligibility from 100 percent to 150 percent of the federal poverty line. Over the same period, services have been expanded eight other times, giving 10,000 more families and 15,000 more children access to child care.

The program subsidizes the cost of child care for low-income families that are working or going to school and need child care. If eligible, families can remain eligible up to 200 percent of the poverty level. The subsidy amount varies depending upon the age of the child, the type of child care, the location of the program, and the rating of the child care program as determined by the Look for the Stars Quality Rating System.

“Over the last few months, we have seen far too many examples of children being harmed because they were left in the care of individuals who had no interest in ensuring the safety of these children,” said CYFD Secretary Monique Jacobson. “Child Care Assistance is one of the best tools we have to prevent child abuse and we want to make sure that parents who are working and going to school are aware of this valuable program and know that they should never have to leave their children with inappropriate caretakers.”

For more information on Child Care Assistance, call 1-800-832-1321 or click here to find a listing of regional Child Care Assistance offices in your area.

CYFD to Hold Rapid Hire Event for Nurses and Behavioral Health Therapists


SANTA FE -- New Mexico's Children, Youth and Families Department will host a Rapid Hire/Recruitment Event for registered nurse and behavioral health therapist positions on Saturday, March 19 in Albuquerque.

Interviews will be conducted onsite at the Juvenile Justice Services Division Human Resources office located at 300 San Mateo NE, Suite 110, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

If you are interested in being considered/interviewed for a nursing position or a behavioral health therapist position at one of our secured facilities, please attend this event. Bring a resume, transcripts, a copy of your current nursing license and the contact information (to include an email address) for three professional references.

For more information on this event, including job descriptions, hiring range and qualifications needed, please download our flyer.

You may also call us at (505) 841-2967 or email for more info.

CYFD Headline Highlights: February 2016


Following are links to selected news media reports published this month regarding CYFD issues and events. Articles will be added as they are published throughout the month.


Prospectors, CYFD swap child service ideas, plans

By Stewart McClintic, Silver City Daily Press - Sun., Feb. 7, 2016
Grant County group meets with CYFD Cabinet Secretary Monique Jacobson to share goals and progress in early childhood development.

CYFD chief Jacobson: "I love this job"

By Cynthia Miller, Santa Fe New Mexican - Sat., Feb. 13, 2016
Agency shows encouraging signs through first year of Monique Jacobson's leadership.

Local hospital to show Heart Gallery

Roswell Daily Record - Wed., Feb. 17, 2016
Lovelace Regional Hospital in Roswell becomes latest location for digital display of New Mexico's adoption-available children.

CYFD Headline Highlights: January 2016


Following are links to selected news media reports published this month regarding CYFD issues and events. Articles will be added as they are published throughout the month.


CYFD wants a more welcoming facility for traumatized kids

By Olivier Uyttebrouck, Albuquerque Journal - Mon., Jan. 4, 2016
Proposed child wellness center would provide a homelike space for traumatized children during their first 48 hours in state custody.

Dedicated Lives: Foster parents mix patience with lots of love

By Michael Scofield, Santa Fe New Mexican - Sat., Jan. 16, 2016
Santa Fe couple describes their experiences with foster parenting in this Q & A feature.

Garden grows in village

By Kara Naber, Deming Headlight - Mon, Jan. 18, 2016
Juvenile offenders contribute in construction of community garden in Columbus.

CYFD Headline Highlights: December 2015


Following are links to selected news media reports published this month regarding CYFD issues and events. Articles will be added as they are published throughout the month.


Heart Galleries open at Hispanic Center

By Ollie Reed Jr., Albuquerque Journal - Fri., Dec. 4, 2015
Albuquerque's National Hispanic Cultural Center will feature adoption-available children at its theater facilities.

Child Advocacy Center to open in Alamogordo

By Jacqueline Devine, Alamogordo Daily News - Wed., Dec. 9, 2015
New facility combines efforts of several state agencies to assist victims of child abuse and neglect.

Courtyard gives CYFD visitors sunny alternative

By Crystal Mondragon, Clovis News Journal - Sat., Dec. 12, 2015
Foster parents pull together to brighten atmosphere of family visitation area at Clovis CYFD office.

Sandia Labs makes huge contribution to toy drive

By Daniel Trujillo, KRQE News 13 - Tues., Dec. 15, 2015
Employees contribute over 500 gifts for abused or neglected children in state custody.