New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department is making changes because of how it handled the case of a little girl who was allegedly forced into prostitution.
Court documents reveal CYFD was called to check on Teri Sanchez’s kids 21 times since 2004.
Among the allegations were reports of neglect and sexual molestation.
The state also had referrals for James Stewart 14 times throughout the years.
However, the kids were never taken from the parents. It took the persistence of school employees to finally get the girl help.
Monique Jacobson, Cabinet Secretary for CYFD, launched an internal investigation and put four workers on administrative leave because of how they handled the case.
Now, the department has announced multiple changes.
First, CYFD and New Mexico State Police will create a child safety strike force which will investigate current and future cases with ten or more referrals.
It will also identify victims and possible locations where they are forced into sex trafficking.
“To relook at these cases and look at them through that different lens. The idea that many of these families might be most at risk for sex trafficking.”
CYFD says it will also restructure its Bernalillo County Offices which has the highest caseload.
The department will also roll out sex trafficking training to all CYFD employees.