CYFD’s jaw-dropping decline in abuse prevention funds revealed

New Mexico’s child welfare agency, the Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD), has witnessed a significant reduction in spending on evidence-based abuse prevention programs, according to a recent legislative report. Despite a high prevalence of child maltreatment, the CYFD’s spending on services aimed at preventing repeated abuse and neglect plummeted by 77 percent between fiscal year 2022 and fiscal year 2023, as revealed by analysts from the Legislative Finance Committee, per the Santa Fe New Mexican.

The report highlighted that prevention services accounted for a mere 3 percent of spending on Protective Services in FY23. Acting CYFD Secretary Teresa Casados contested the accuracy of the analysis, stating in an email that spending on preventive services had, in fact, increased by 4 percent from $7.56 million in FY2022 to $7.87 million in FY2023. As of November 16, spending had reportedly reached $13.47 million, indicating a positive shift “reflecting that CYFD is moving in the right direction with a focus on prevention.”

In response, the LFC stressed the importance of understanding how the allocated funds were being utilized, emphasizing evidence-based prevention services as a legislative priority. Maralyn Beck, founder of the New Mexico Child First Network, expressed disappointment at the reported cut in abuse prevention spending, describing it as “both frustrating and deeply irresponsible.” Beck underscored the need for increased investment in upstream services to address New Mexico’s ongoing behavioral health crisis.

The legislative report further revealed that the CYFD had not expended any of the $20 million allocated by the Legislature in FY2023 to expand behavioral health provider capacity. The LFC had previously reported New Mexico’s consistent ranking among the top six states for repeat maltreatment of children within a year of an initial abuse or neglect allegation.

The fiscal year 2024 budget recommendation acknowledged that increased spending on preventive services correlated with a decline in cases of repeat maltreatment. However, it pointed out that the reported drop in abuse prevention spending was a matter of concern, especially considering New Mexico’s record-breaking revenues and the responsibility to prevent child mistreatment.

State Sen. Crystal Diamond Brantley (R-Elephant Butte) emphasized the importance of preventing the “willful harm of our most vulnerable children,” citing the need for an Office of the Child Advocate to enhance oversight of CYFD. Brantley urged the governor to support this proposal in the upcoming legislative session.

State Rep. Liz Thomson (D-Bernalillo), chair of the House Health and Human Services Committee, expressed concern over the reported drop in abuse prevention spending, stating, “My reaction is, ‘Wow.’ Of course, I would like to know more details, but that doesn’t seem like we’re going in the right direction.”

As the state grapples with child welfare challenges, stakeholders and legislators are expected to push for reforms in the upcoming legislative session, focusing on prioritizing effective prevention programs and leveraging federal funding to address child maltreatment effectively.


9 thoughts on “CYFD’s jaw-dropping decline in abuse prevention funds revealed”

  1. It would be nice for cyfd to focus on children truly abused and get all there facts correct because alot of cases and charg s always seem to be unsubstantiated but causes trauma within the families very not ok and tears familys apart for no reason they should work harder on targeted the actual abused children rather then going by alligations of usually angry spiteful family members personal issues….

  2. True I was a foster parent and was fostering my nephew and two niece’s because of false allegations they were removed from my care, and was not allowed to foster anymore. There was never no abuse or neglect but because of family members getting upset that I was receiving money from cyfd and the caseworker who was on the children’s case believed there accusations knowing there was no proof.

  3. We were told two years ago Chief Justice Barbara Vijil was going to step in and save the day. That obviously didn’t happen. We currently have an interim director Secretary Teresa Casados whose move is not to move. New Mexico is again the worst at protecting our children. And to think millions have been available to solve this problem is unconscionable.

    1. Yes, we all expected so much from Vigil. We expected a great deal under Grisham, Martinez.

      If you want the reality, well its as simple as the budget. They have pushed up salaries for the upper echelon folks, time after time. Upper level people having assistants that make no sense, but reinforce their feelings of authority by the number of staff they can order about. Lower level staff? The folks on the ground? Nope.

      This has gone on for years, and this state has constantly been under a federal consent decree! Money flowing where it shouldn’t, and in this case, those funds aren’t being spent, in all likelihood, because they don’t have the staff to do the job. WHY?

      They don’t have the “boots on the ground” cuz they pay these folks crap. Frontline workers deal with unbelievable crap every single day and the money the state offers is chump change.

      This is the classic lie that sickens me: the top tier are soaked in cash (for a state position) and the lower level staff not only get no increase financially, but no increase in staff to do the job.

      My bona fides? I worked for CYFD at a time that had our state in a disaster, under a Federal Consent Decree, and a case backlog that, well, was unreal. I worked for 4 years and handled thousands of cases, put untold miles on my car, and was able to see the cases that had been unresolved, closed.

      There are people who care, but there are plenty who just do the job for the salary.

  4. Again and again, I have witnessed by CYFD’s actions priorities are not the protection and safety of the children. Rather, their top three priorities are:
    1). Money
    2). Money
    3). Money

  5. And yet the Gov pours money into Planned Parenthood facilities by the millions? Good grief…protect the children we have out there! Stop the prevailing sentiment that children aren’t worth protection from womb thru childhood. Its sickening

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