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

By Rep. Gallegos, et. al.

02.06.2020

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 melody.wells@state.nm.us 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.

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Attachment: Attorney General's Opinion