ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – “Many times they do not make the decision that’s in the best interest of the children. Many times it’s based on the fact that they’re vindictive, they don’t like a particular foster parent or relative.” Albuquerque Attorney Harold Atencio is speaking out for the first time about what he calls ongoing abuse and neglect inside the Children Youth and Families Department of New Mexico.

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He wanted to tell all for a while, but a state statute, that’s been in place for decades, prevented him from speaking, until now. “We couldn’t go to the press, we couldn’t yell and scream to anybody to do something about it, she was just out of luck. Now with this statute being taken down, when people are in that situation, they can bring this to the attention of the public,” he said.

Antencio is referring to one of his clients who he says was a qualified foster parent. He says she was allowed to adopt one of the two children in her care, a child with special needs. CYFD then pulled her license, so she couldn’t continue to care for the second child. “They used an excuse she didn’t make enough money and essentially she was fostering child because it was a profit center for her. I can tell you there’s nothing further from the truth,” Antencio said. “They took this child away from her for what are just terrible reasons that we could not go to the press for at that time.”

But now, this is being brought to light, after a 10th Circuit Court decision lifted the statute a few weeks ago in New Mexico. “There’s a lot of problems with CYFD, and we need to fix those problems. I don’t know that this is the end of the road, but I think it’s the beginning. If we can start bringing these things to the attention of the press and the public, then maybe we can start making some real change,” Antencio said.

News 13 reached out to CYFD for comment but did not hear back.