capitol reports

Capitol Report 2/14/2022 – Senate Committee Tables Independent Oversight of CYFD

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INTRO:

A bill seeking to provide independent oversight over the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department ran into a roadblock in a Senate Committee.

Jason Espinoza reports from the Roundhouse:

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Over the last year the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department has faced several wrongful death lawsuits, been under investigation by the office of the Attorney General for destroying employee communications and been accused of attempting to silence and retaliate against a foster mother and two department caseworkers who criticized the agency’s action.

Now, a bi-partisan effort led by Representatives Kelly Fajardo and Micaela Cadena and Senators Siah Correa Hemphill and David Gallegos seeks to create independent oversight over the beleaguered New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department.

The legislation was designed to provide an independent child welfare ombudsman as an avenue for children, biological parents, foster parents, and concerned New Mexicans to raise concerns about child protection services within the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department.

According to the legislation, the independent child welfare ombudsman would then research and investigate concerns reported, determine the best way to resolve concerns—including bridging communication barriers or resolving conflicts based on misunderstanding, identify trends and patterns, and ultimately recommend system improvement.

Secretary Barbara Vigil of the Children, Youth and Families Department testified in opposition of the legislation designed to provide independent oversight of her agency.

Despite legislation unanimously passing the House of Representatives, the legislation was ultimately tabled by Democratic Senators Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, Liz Stefanics, Brenda McKenna, and Bill Tallman.

For the New Mexico News Network, I’m Jason Espinoza

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