The Children, Youth, and Families Department Cabinet Secretary is hoping new laws will help the department step in to save children a lot sooner. This comes after Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed new bills to make sure children are the top priority.
“I think we got a lot done that really paves the way for where we can go as far as making New Mexico a better place for kids,” said Brian Blalock, CYFD Cabinet Secretary.
Blalock said this legislative session is a sign of hope for the department and the children of New Mexico.
Blalock said HB 230 will make sure every child who is born with drugs in their system will get the proper care they deserve and need. He said it also focuses on rehabilitation rather than punishment for the parents.
“HB 230 really focuses on a medical treatment model to be sure when these babies are born drug exposed, we can be sure that the baby and the caregiver are receiving appropriate medical care,” he said.
Blalock said HB 236 will take care of the truancy problem by linking the child and family to community-based support services to make sure they continue to go to school.
“It mandates and creates collaboration between school districts and us. That’s great because it helps us partner with folks in the community that are working with kids more on the front lines,” he said.
Blalock said what the previous administration was doing just wasn’t working with high-profile child murder cases, like Omare Varela and Victoria Martens.
“We’re inheriting systems that maybe aren’t necessarily set up to getting great results from kids or families,” he said.
Now, Blalock hopes these new laws will finally show some positive changes to the youth of New Mexico.
“It’s a way to set the path, set the base line so we can get started. We’re looking forward to the next few years to do reform, but this gets us going in the right direction,” he said.
A spokesperson for Albuquerque Public Schools said they are waiting to hear from the Public Education Department on what they need to change or keep in their policies and procedures.
Another bill signed by the governor will help children who have been victims of human trafficking to get the help they need in a more efficient manner.