January 10, 2014

Omaree Varela or Baby Brianna. Which is the real Susana Martinez?

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Remember when candidate Susana Martinez ran all those TV ads about Baby Brianna?  A lot of people said those ads helped her win, and they were sure she would be serious about tackling New Mexico’s child abuse crisis.

The holiday death of Omaree Varela, a 9-year old former CYFD foster child, is raising new concerns about how the Martinez administration is handling those cases.

New Mexicans are asking questions, and now we have the answer.

We spent a week pouring through budgets, agency reports, news reports and agency report cards – more than 800 pages of documents – and you won’t believe what we found.

Last night KOB-TV called our report a scathing look at Susana Martinez’s management.  Watch for yourself.



Can’t see the video in your email browser?  You can watch the full thing on YouTube here.

Our three-part report is available on our website at ProgressNowNM.org.  It’s worth a read.

Here’s just some of what we found:

  • Since Martinez took office, nearly 1-in-4 children seeking help waits more than a month for an investigation – that number is rising year after year.
  • More than 230 children needing help remained in abusive homes 6-months after the first report of abuse
  • The workload for the agency has risen 27% since Martinez took office

But how has she responded to this crisis?

  • We found that the agency had 93 vacant child protective worker positions vacant in July of 2013.  CYFD now says that number may be as high as 120.
  • As taxpayers, we already paid for every one of those positions.  That’s what it takes to protect our children and the legislature authorized those positions in the budget.
  • Instead of hiring more workers to protect our children Governor Martinez’s administration held those positions vacant and returned the money budgeted for those salaries to the general fund to justify the state’s huge budget surplus she promoted in her national Republican convention speech
  • In FY14, the Martinez administration took more than $6 million from CYFD programs

Scathing indeed. And a story worth telling.    Read it for yourself at ProgressNowNM.org. 

PS – Governor Martinez is gambling with our children’s livelihoods. Young Omaree Varela already lost, but HUNDREDS more children wake up every day in New Mexico in homes just like Omaree’s and their wait for help is getting longer.

Mad? You should be.  Call Governor Martinez at 505-476-2200 and tell her we won’t put up with her playing politics with our kids safety.  Tell her to put our money back into CYFD.

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