Help Wanted: CYFD Hiring Youth Care Specialists





ALBUQUERQUE -- The New Mexico Children, Youth, and Families Department says they are hiring dozens of people over the coming year to work with juveniles in long-term care facilities.

Today, 12 new youth care specialists (YCS) were trained by the Department on the search and seizure techniques they will use in a CYFD facility when working with juveniles. The session is part of an eight-week core training that youth care specialists go through before working in one of CYFD’s long-term care facilities.

This set of new hires will begin working with youth on December 20, and the Department expects to hire dozens more over the coming year. Pay begins at $12.15 an hour and ranges as high as $20 an hour for experienced employees. All employees receive the state employee benefit package, which includes medical insurance, retirement benefits, and vacation days. This group of new hires will be split between Albuquerque facilities and the J. Paul Taylor facility in Las Cruces.

“This is a tough job, there’s no doubt about it,” says Camino Nuevo Superintendent Silverio Pena. Pena conducted the search and seizure training today and is an experienced juvenile justice administrator who started his career 15 years ago as a youth care specialist.

“It’s also one of the most rewarding jobs you could have. This is a public safety job, but you also become a key figure in children’s lives. You are a mentor, a teacher, a caretaker. You are a role model for kids who have gotten in trouble in their communities. This is a job that puts you in a position to make a difference in their lives.”

CYFD works closely with all facility and field staff to maintain public safety while ensuring a seamless transition back into the community. YCS work directly with clients. While their job is primarily security, they also serve as counselors, role models, and mentors.

CYFD says it has a high vacancy rate for the YCS positions –- currently 11 percent. The vacancy rate soared during a state-employee hiring freeze imposed after budget problems during the last administration. The state agency is targeting a vacancy rate of 9.5 percent or less and is hiring people to fill these critical public safety slots.

CYFD’s budget for its long-term care youth facilities is $40 million this year. That funds programming for roughly 350 juveniles and includes education and vocational programs and medical and food services. The Department employs a total of 301 youth care specialists with a total of 561 people working either directly in or supporting the state’s juvenile justice system.

CYFD’s core training program is designed to prepare employees for the challenges faced on the job. The rigorous training program included classroom instruction, hands-on learning, and on the job training. Training sessions like today’s search and seizure exercises give the new employees the opportunity to experience the material learned in class in a real working environment. This also gives the students an opportunity to come back to the classroom with questions for the instructors to answer.