SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – With ten days left in the state legislative session, one department lawmakers had hoped to improve was the New Mexico’s Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD). Through the years, CYFD has been the subject of lawsuits, political debates, and investigations.
In a 2021 independent report, CYFD received a “failing grade” for progress. After a series of child abuse and death allegations and investigations, CYFD announced an overhaul in mid-2022. In February 2023, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham ordered a series of changes in the department.
But New Mexico’s legislators have suggestions too. During the 2023 lawmaking session, they’ve filed more than 30 pieces of legislation that could impact CYFD’s operations. So, how far have those bills and memorials gotten in the political process?
Most haven’t gotten far. With fewer than ten days left in the session, the majority appear to be stuck in committees.
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(Scroll left and right to see more) So far, CYFD-related bills have stalled. Others have made progress. Note, this is not a comprehensive list.
A select few have received more attention. Several have passed either the House or the Senate. But, as of March 9, they still have quite a way to go to reach the finish line.
One bill that has made a bit of progress is Senate Bill 150. Sponsored by Gay G. Kernan (R-Chaves, Eddy & Lea), the bill tries to require CYFD to investigate instances when parents don’t comply with their ‘plan of care.’
In New Mexico, newborns who exhibit physical, neurological, or behavioral symptoms consistent with prenatal drug exposure or withdrawal symptoms from prenatal drug exposure or fetal alcohol spectrum disorder are generally given a ‘plan of care’ by hospitals or health professionals. The bill puts more pressure on CYFD to make sure parents stick to those plans.
“This is a commonsense thing, to put eyes on a kid when there’s a concern,” Kernan explained in a committee meeting back in February. And ultimately the bill did make it through the Senate. But it’s been stuck waiting for debate in several house committees for over a week.