Why the CYFD struggles to fulfill its purpose of protecting kids

The Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD) is the New Mexico state agency authorized to act on behalf of children and other vulnerable people for their protection. The CYFD fulfills a similar purpose to the role of Child Protective Services (CPS) in other states. The organization investigates claims of child abuse or neglect and theoretically has the authority to remove children from unsafe environments or connect struggling families with support services.

Unfortunately, the CYFD is notorious for failing to serve its purpose to intervene when children are at risk. In some cases, failures by the CYFD result in lifelong trauma or even the death of a vulnerable individual. Why is it so common for the CYFD to fail in its efforts to protect children from abuse committed by family members or caregivers?

There are organizational issues with the CYFD

According to an internal review of agency obligations, it appears that the CYFD has routinely had new responsibilities added without any adjustments made to other responsibilities for the organization. This has led to contradictory and even impossible-to-meet expectations for the organization and confusion among the people working there, which makes them less effective at their jobs.

For example, requirements now impose stricter standards for employee conduct and training, making it harder to both hire and retain professionals at the CYFD. At the same time, the organization wants to speed up hiring as much as possible to onboard more workers, as many CYFD professionals have caseloads too high for them to manage reasonably.

The unfortunate truth is that many children who need support from the state end up slipping through the cracks in a broken system and not getting help in a timely manner. Some of these children or young adults will end up permanently traumatized, while others might actually die.

Hopefully, more attention to the failings of the CYFD in recent years will lead to significant reform at the state level. Until that occurs, family members of children in dangerous situations need to understand their rights and options. One of the many ways that people can push for reform and promotes enhanced responsibility by the state is to take legal action against the CYFD when it fails.

It is often only court rulings and financial consequences that prompt systemic change. Pursuing a lawsuit against the CYFD might be a reasonable response if the agency investigated and substantiated claims against a family but failed to intervene for the protection of a child.

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