SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – The New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department is presenting its budget request to the state legislature on Monday, Jan. 24 which includes an increase of more than $41 million. That amounts to 19% more of what the department currently gets from the state.

CYFD says the money would go towards increasing staff and behavioral health services such as creating a trauma response team. The team would be made up of a therapist and doctors to help CYFD families.

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The department is also asking for more money to purchase a new building in Santa Fe to cut operating costs and to establish an EMT program that would train and send young adults into the workforce. “It’s one of the most moving programs that I’ve observed managed by CYFD and enables these young adults, many of them are Native Americans that come in and teach them medical technician work and then go back to their community,” said CYFD Cabinet Secretary Barbara Vigil.

In 2018, a group of 13 foster children sued CYFD, claiming the state failed “to provide the stability and support” to children in state custody. The department eventually entered into a settlement agreement in that case and says it needs to add 90 staff positions such as caseworkers, supervisors, and children’s court attorneys to comply.

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham is recommending adding more than $29 million to the department’s budget which is about $10 million less than they are asking.