ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD) foster teen says she and many other teens were forced to sleep on the floor of CYFD offices because they didn’t have a home for them.

Last month, the state moved them to one of its reintegration centers which led to major problems, including foster teens getting arrested. CYFD admits it has had a difficult time finding foster families who will accept certain teens. They also admit sending them to the Albuquerque Girls Reintegration Center (AGRC) wasn’t a good fit either.

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A teen, who KRQE is not identifying, has been in CYFD’s custody for years. She shared photos saying she was forced to sleep on the floor for weeks along with other teens at the CYFD receiving center.

CYFD didn’t confirm foster children were forced to sleep on the floor but, in an email, they said children stay in offices for a few hours while they find a placement that includes foster families, shelters, or treatment centers.

The department adds those places have all been affected by COVID, which has limited placement options. That’s why last month the state decided to move 14 teens to the AGRC, which usually houses juvenile criminals.

The center was vacant at the time, but the teen says they were treated as inmates which escalated problems with staff, who have a different way of handling kids who usually stay there. She says she was arrested for allegedly grabbing one of the workers, and others got in trouble as well.

CYFD wouldn’t say how many foster children were arrested, citing juvenile records are sealed but say they will no longer be housing foster teens at the center as of January 14. CYFD says significant efforts went into making the reintegration center work as a temporary placement, however, ultimately, the facility was not conducive to the particular kids transferred there.

They say many of these youth have behavioral health issues and histories of aggression and need a high level of care. CYFD says they continue moving forward to a find a safe place for kids. CYFD responded Wednesday night saying children are provided with bedding should they need to sleep at the receiving center or office.