New Mexico

Lawsuit calls New Mexico's foster care system "broken," according to report

Lawsuit CYFD accused of endangering kids

Child advocates in New Mexico have sued the state's Children, Youth & Families Department, calling it a "broken" system, according to the Albuquerque Journal.

The lawsuit alleges tha ta number of neglected children are place din the care of families who don't have the "training, ability and support to care for them," the Journal reports.

Spokesman Henry Varela told ABC-7 that CYFD had not officially been served the lawsuit, but declined to comment on pending litigation.

"I think it's a broken system," said Las Cruces City Councilwoman Kasandra Gandara, who represents district one.

Gandara spent more than 17 years in CYFD, advancing from the role of caseworker to administration within the department. She said child welfare in New Mexico is more than just the job of one department.

"We need to look collectively together," Gandara said. "It's just not the state's responsibility or the federal departments mandating certain things. I really believe at a local level, that our municipalities, our county government is also responsible in coming together."

There were 1,325 foster parents across the state of New Mexico as of July 2018, according to a Human Services Department spokeswoman. That number has increased by 330 foster parents since 2010.

According to the lawsuit, 4,737 New Mexico children spent at least some time in foster care care in 2017.

"We have to ask ourselves, 'What's happening in a community that's very resource plentiful,'" Gandara said. "Why are those things happening? What do we need to do as a community to stand up and say, 'Not one more?'"

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