Bill Aimed at Protecting CYFD Caseworkers Unanimously Passes House

03.19.2015

SANTA FE – With a unanimous vote, the New Mexico House of Representatives today passed House Bill 506 which establishes specific legal protections for Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD) caseworkers from assault and battery.

“Our caseworkers do one of the toughest jobs that anyone can have,” said Governor Susana Martinez. “There is no reason whatsoever that little league umpires should have more protection under the law than a caseworker who steps into a house at 2 a.m. to protect a child from abuse.”

Under current law, it is a felony to commit assault or battery on paramedics, school employees, and sports officials like referees and umpires. However, assault and battery on a child abuse caseworker is not a specific offense, even though they routinely find themselves in stressful and potentially dangerous situations involving child custody and safety. HB 506, which was introduced by Representative Doreen Gallegos (D-Las Cruces) makes assault and battery of CYFD caseworker its own specific crime and brings stiffer penalties.

“Our CYFD caseworkers are very valuable to our children and families and they have a very challenging job,” said Representative Gallegos.  “This bipartisan bill has been a great coordinated effort and provides much-needed protection to those who work tirelessly for the children of New Mexico.”

“It is important that we give our workers the tools they need to their job to the best of their ability,” said CYFD Cabinet Secretary Monique Jacobson.  “This bill is one of those tools that not only protects our field workers, but also ensures that those who assault or commit battery on our field workers are held accountable for their actions.”

HB 506 now moves to the Senate for its consideration.