Click on the arrow to listen to the story:
ALBUQUERQUE, NM – The New Mexico Department of Child Protective Services is set to receive a funding boost that officials say will be used to improve services for youth in foster care, including creating placements more specialized for some of the most vulnerable children in the state.
During the 2022 New Mexico Legislature, state lawmakers approved a 9.4% funding increase for the Department of Children, Youth and Families. CYFD, which requested nearly $255 million for its general fund before the legislative session, will receive approximately $230 million for its 2023 general fund operating budget. The department’s overall budget is expected to exceed $346 million.
The budget increase does not take into account a federal counterpart of nearly $10 million that will likely disappear in the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2022.
“We expect the federal money to disappear and we are going to have to find ways to pay [the difference]said CYFD spokesman Charlie Moore-Pabst. The $10 million includes $6 million for protective services, $2.8 million for behavioral health services and $900,000 for program support.
Some of the additional state money will be spent on strengthening security measures for CYFD office staff and filling gaps in specialist residential services for young people with serious mental illness. Moore-Pabst said young people coming out of these treatment facilities are often placed in traditional foster care and treatment, and that this population needs more options for psychiatric care.
“If the needs were high enough that they needed to be in residential treatment, sending them back to a lower level of care isn’t helpful,” Moore-Pabst said. The CYFD will spend more than $3 million to create more 12- to 14-bed subacute care residential facilities across the state, they said.
The state child welfare agency will also transfer vacancies from juvenile justice to behavioral health services and will work with the New Mexico Department of Social Services to provide community health services in accordance with a legal settlement reached by the state following a lawsuit alleging that he re-traumatized children in his care.
Additionally, the department is re-profiling $7 million from 2022 to modernize its case management software. In June 2021, two terminated CYFD employees filed a whistleblower costume against the department, former Cabinet Secretary Brian Blalock and Deputy Cabinet Secretary Terry Locke, alleging that CYFD violated government procurement laws while pursuing a multi-million dollar information technology program dollars without bidding.
CYFD also received a $500,000 credit for domestic violence services. The plans for opening the first safe house in the state because young victims of sex trafficking are also progressing — the agency recently published a request for applications for the supplier of the safe house.
In March, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed into law a record budget after the conclusion of the legislative session. In addition to increased financial support from CYFD, New Mexico’s $8.72 billion general fund budget, a 14% increase from 2022, includes more dollars dedicated to educators and support staff in schools. K-12 public schools.