After weathering increasingly harsh scrutiny from the media, activists and lawmakers alike, New Mexico’s state Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD) is going to be reformed. Recently, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed an executive order designed to restructure the agency in meaningful ways. The ultimate aim of the executive order is to better ensure the protection and well-being of the state’s minors.
There are eight major changes to the agency that are going to take effect as a result of the executive order. The most high-profile shifts include the creation of both a Policy Advisory Council and an Office of Innovation. Both of these bodies are designed to research best practices concerning children who rely on the state for protection and to craft policies that will benefit those children’s interests.
Other major shifts include a demand for the Emergency Health and Behavioral Services Division to put a statewide system into effect that will give families in need access to services immediately when their situation warrants such attention. The executive order also restructures several divisions within the agency in an attempt to better ensure the effectiveness of the system as a whole.
Children are particularly vulnerable members of society, as they are not in a legal position to advocate on behalf of their own rights. State agencies like CYFD have faced scrutiny in recent years for their handling of at-risk children. Additionally, bringing a claim against a state agency in New Mexico comes with tight deadlines, and makes acting quickly pivotal to the outcome of that claim. Having adequate systems in place to help children stay safe and foster their well-being is a critical function of state government. Hopefully, the changes facilitated by this recent executive order will result in meaningful reforms for the betterment of some of the state’s most vulnerable residents.