January 21, 2014

ProgressNowNM/Center for Civic Action Release Statewide Radio Ad Campaign on CYFD Crisis

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Statewide radio ads launch to highlight CYFD child endangerment crisis

Read the transcript, view the sources and listen to the ad at the end of the post

NEW MEXICO – A statewide radio ad campaign launched Tuesday to heighten awareness about the current state of New Mexico’s Children, Youth, and Families Department (CYFD) under Governor Susana Martinez. ProgressNow New Mexico and the Center for Civic Action, non-partisan non-profit public advocacy groups, produced the ads that will air throughout the state throughout the week.

Following the recent and tragic death of Omaree Varela, a former foster child who was returned Stop Child Abuseto his abusive mother by CYFD, the Martinez administration has come under increasing scrutiny concerning its handling of child welfare issues. In addition to New Mexico falling to 50th in the nation for child well being during her tenure, Martinez artificially held vacant more than 90 CYFD positions responsible for investigating and helping children in need. Numerous recent reports, including a recent ProgressNow New Mexico report, discovered that:

  • The agency routinely hold between 90 and 120 funded positions vacant from job duties responsible for protecting abused and neglected children.
  •  In Fiscal Year 2013, the administration left more than $6 million from CYFD’s budget unspent, returning it to the state budget instead.
  • The number of children who continue to suffer maltreatment under CYFD supervision has risen – more than 230 in one quarter of 2013 alone.
  • Almost 1-in-4 cases referred for investigation at CYFD results in a child waiting more than 30-days for a result.  The national benchmark is less than 6%.  That number has climbed since Martinez took office.

While the Martinez administration has suggested in response that they have encountered problems recruiting and retaining CYFD staff, advocacy organizations running the ad argue that fully utilizing the approved budget would provide the agency with the resources and support staff necessary to lower caseloads, respond to allegations of abuse in a timely manner and be proactive in protecting our children.

“We can’t starve the cow then blame it for being skinny,” says Patrick Davis of ProgressNowNM. “But that is exactly what this administration is doing to our children in need and the state employees responsible for protecting them.”

“New Mexicans are treated to relentless images of Governor Martinez using schoolchildren as backdrops,” says Javier Benavidez of the Center for Civic Action. “But instead of taking bold action to protect our children, her reckless undercutting of critical government functions are lining up more and more children to follow in the footsteps of Baby Brianna and Omaree Varela.”

The ad runs statewide during the opening week of the legislative session on stations in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Gallup reaching more than 90% of New Mexico. Listeners are encouraged to call the office of Governor Martinez and ask her to fulfill her promise to put New Mexico’s children first by fully utilizing CYFD’s budget to combat child abuse and neglect.

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Transcript

Every 16 minutes, someone in New Mexico calls CYFD to report an abused or neglected child. As a candidate, Governor Martinez promised to make our children a top priority, but since she took office, our children are waiting longer and longer for help.

In the agency’s own Fiscal Year 2013 “360 Degree Annual Report,” CYFD reported receiving 32,930 reports of abuse and neglect in 2013. That averages one new report every 15.5 minutes.

Read the Report: http://cyfd.org/docs/360ANNUAL_FY13_1210.pdf

A new report says 1 in 4 children needing help are waiting more than a month for answers, and hundreds more children continue to be mistreated in dangerous homes.

Citation: In 2013, CYFD completed a report to the US Department of Health and Human Services.  In it, the agency outlines it’s accomplishments in meeting federal standards for child welfare.

For 2012, CYFD reported that 23.0% of investigations conducted were pending more than 30 days – that’s almost four times the national target (p.28) and up 4% from the previous year.

Read the report: New Mexico Annual Progress & Services Report, CYFD report to US Department of Health and Human Services, July 2012

In fact, in 2012 CYFD met none of it’s national targets related to preventing child maltreatment.

Now we learn the administration hasn’t even filled 100 jobs responsible for protecting our children.

“Vacancy Rate: Protective Services 121.5” page 9 of the CYFD report to the Legislative Finance Committee, September 27, 2013

Read the report: http://www.nmlegis.gov/lcs/handouts/ALFC%20092513%20Item%2032%20Presentation%20FINAL.pdf

Instead of filling those jobs, Governor took 6 million dollars from CYFD’s budget. Now the legislature wants answers about where those jobs went. But our children shouldn’t have to wait for those hearings.

Fewer jobs. More children in danger.

Call Governor Martinez at 476-2200 and tell her to put the money back into CYFD and put our children first.  Paid for by ProgressNow New Mexico and the Center for Civic Action.