Valencia County Child Advocacy Center Opens
LOS LUNAS, N.M. -- Governor Susana Martinez, CYFD Secretary Yolanda Deines and DPS Secretary Greg Fouratt joined local Valencia County leaders and community partners on Friday to announce the grand opening of the Valencia County Child Advocacy Center pilot program in Los Lunas. In early April, Governor Martinez signed an executive order establishing a child advocacy center pilot program in Valencia County to enable better coordination between CYFD caseworkers, law enforcement, and community partners who work on child maltreatment cases.
“Bringing together a diverse team of trained and dedicated professionals will help keep more of our children in Valencia County safe,” said Governor Martinez. “This team approach will help improve communication and information-sharing, so that these professionals can better protect the children and families they serve.”
The Child Advocacy Center will house employees from CYFD, New Mexico State Police and local providers under one roof to provide a multidisciplinary approach to investigating and coordinating between cases of abuse and neglect in order to minimize secondary trauma to children and improving the accountability of all areas who work with children and families in Valencia County.
”Having under one roof all of the state and local agencies with which children must interact at one of the most traumatic times in their lives serves two critical purposes: first, it eases that trauma as much as possible because it minimizes the number of times the children have to explain what happened to them. And second, it maximizes the ability of law enforcement and social services to achieve the best result for every child in every case,” said DPS Cabinet Secretary Greg Fouratt.
Valencia County is one of the highest-risk and highest-need areas of the state for child welfare services; the implementation of a child advocacy center in Valencia County provides an opportunity for CYFD’s Protective Services Division and local stakeholders to offer a wide range of services under the same roof based on the individualized and local needs of children and their families residing in Valencia County.
“Having multiple agencies and providers working together under one roof allows for continual interaction and better communication which is very beneficial to the children and families of Valencia County,” said CYFD Cabinet Secretary Yolanda Deines. “We will continue to work with local partners in other New Mexico communities to identify areas where it would be feasible and beneficial to establish additional child advocacy centers.”
Local Valencia County volunteers, churches and groups have aided in the opening of the child advocacy center by donating toys and books for family visiting rooms and overnight hygiene packs and clothing for children in need.
“I applaud this community for coming together to ensure this child advocacy center is up and running and has everything that is needed to ensure that children and families feel comfortable and safe,” said Governor Martinez. “It is this same approach that we are looking for in other New Mexico communities as we look to open more child advocacy centers throughout the state.”