A California lawyer has been tapped to lead New Mexico’s Children, Youth and Families Department.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced Brian Blalock will be taking over as the CYFD cabinet secretary for the state.
A San Francisco-area resident, Blalock has spent the last few years working for an anti-poverty nonprofit called “Tipping Point,” while also launching a multi-million dollars youth homeless help effort.
“A department that works with at-risk kids, the very first priority should be to ensure that youth and children are safe,” said Blalock, at a cabinet appointee introduction news conference Monday morning.
Under Governor Susana Martinez’s administration, CYFD has been led by Monique Jacobson for the last three and a half years.
Blalock says for now, he’s “listening” to figure out what he feels the department is doing well and could improve.
“He’s got the exact kind of balanced, on the ground experience and vision to overhaul our Children, Youth and Families Department,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham.
The governor hinted Monday that part of that overhaul she’s looking for includes filling several hundred vacant positions at CYFD.
“We have atrocious, atrocious vacancy rates,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham.
“The notion that you just didn’t pay attention to those positions, for me is appalling and I think in large part certainly has led to many of the kinds of tragedies,” said the governor.
While Blalock didn’t get too specific about his ideas or his plans, he says CYFD may see some new emphasis in different sectors of the agency.
“It may require some shifting of resources when really looking at things like expansion of community based mental health services,” said Blalock.
The governor also spoke Monday of prioritizing an overhaul of the state’s foster care system, which she says isn’t doing enough to support families who take in kids.