Gov. Martinez Unveils CYFD Heart Gallery Featuring African-American Foster Children
ALBUQUERQUE— Governor Susana Martinez joined CYFD Cabinet Secretary Yolanda Deines and Office of African American Affairs Executive Director Yvette Kaufman-Bell today to celebrate Black History Month and to unveil CYFD’s 14th permanent Heart Gallery exhibit. The gallery is at the Office of African American Affairs and features portraits of African-American foster children who are available for adoption.
“This is another step forward in our never-ending efforts to find these foster children Forever Families,” said Governor Martinez. “CYFD’s Heart Gallery helps bring together potential parents with older children in foster care who want and deserve a family to call their own.”
As the latest exhibit, the Office of African American Affairs joins the Office of the Governor, the Albuquerque Sunport, the Pit at the University of New Mexico, UNM Hospital, Christus St. Vincent Hospital in Santa Fe, Memorial Hospital in Las Cruces, and seven other locations throughout New Mexico to feature Heart Gallery exhibits.
“We still have plenty of work to do when it comes to finding families for children in foster care,” said Governor Martinez. “Regardless of the age of these children or the fact that sibling groups are in need of one home, it is a driving goal for Secretary Deines and New Mexico’s child welfare professionals to find all of these children forever families.”
“There has always been a challenge in finding permanent homes for older children and sibling groups,” said CYFD Cabinet Secretary Yolanda Deines. “The Heart Gallery has proven to be effective in helping CYFD link these beautiful children with loving parents and a forever family.”
As of January 2014, there were close to 2,000 New Mexico children in foster care. There were 662 alone in Bernalillo County. Currently, 215 children in Bernalillo County are available for adoption through CYFD. Twenty-nine of those children are African American.
“As a child I lived in eight different family homes while growing up, and it wasn’t easy. So I have a special place in my heart for children who face adverse home situations,” said Office of African American Affairs Executive Director Yvette Kaufman-Bell. “African American children are aging out of the foster care system at high rates in New Mexico, so it is fitting that this agency share in this mission. We’re proud to join with Governor Susana Martinez, CYFD, and the NM Heart Gallery Foundation to shine a light on our children who need a loving family to help them grow up with love and safety.”
“I appreciate Yvette’s courage and willingness to share her story with us,” said Governor Martinez. “Yvette is proof that when you give a child a chance to succeed they can grow up to be successful and respected community leaders like her. For thousands of kids, the Heart Gallery represents that opportunity.”
The Heart Gallery of New Mexico is a CYFD program created to raise awareness about older foster children and sibling groups in protective custody who are ready for adoption. Talented photographers donate their time to create compelling and unique portraits of the children, which appear in exhibits across the state as well as in the online Heart Gallery on the CYFD website, www.heartgallerynm.org.
New Mexicans interested in becoming adoptive or foster parents can call 1-800-432-2075.