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Charlie Moore-Pabst

CYFD mourns recent child deaths

amid ongoing department changes, improvements

SANTA FE -- The state Children, Youth and Families Department reflected this week on the
recent senseless deaths of several children in the state and joins New Mexico in mourning the
losses of bright lights in our shared community.

In the first months of the new state administration, the department has been working diligently
on reforms and improvements that will better serve children and families across the state. The
horrific abuse visited upon children in Albuquerque and Farmington in recent weeks is a stark
reminder of the work still to do, CYFD Secretary Brian Blalock said.

“As our agency continues to undergo a transformation and seeks to rebuild after years of cuts
and neglect, CYFD staff remain unequivocally committed to making New Mexico a place where
all children, especially our most vulnerable children, can live in safety and comfort and
ultimately lead fulfilling lives,” Secretary Blalock said. “We grieve the recent deaths. We, as a
new leadership team, are constantly looking to learn from the mistakes of the past. The safety
and welfare of the children and other victims is and will always be our first priority.”

CYFD is in regular contact with leadership at the city of Albuquerque and with the Albuquerque
Police Department as the state agency builds better practices to ensure vulnerable children do
not slip through any potential cracks in inter-agency communication. City and police leadership
have provided consistent support to CYFD as the agencies build on a renewed commitment to
collaboration so as to better support children and families.

CYFD will continue to work alongside local and state investigators to provide immediate support
for any other children involved in these recent traumatic events.

The agency is continually re-evaluating past practices and entrenched departmental concerns.
Among the high-priority items CYFD staff have been addressing in recent weeks:

Intake Times

One longtime issue that has plagued the department is wait times for the Statewide Central
Intake (SCI) system, #SAFE.
Peak wait times just last week were unacceptably counted in hours. Waits have now been
reduced to generally the twenty minute range during periods of the heaviest call volume.

“Reducing wait times as we have, even during our busiest hours, will allow our investigators to
get into homes more quickly,” Deputy Secretary Terry Locke said. “As always, we encourage
anyone to report potential abuse or neglect by calling #SAFE.”

New Mexico residents can call #SAFE (#7233) from their cell phone or 855-333-SAFE.

Off-peak wait times are even lower via a new triage system instituted by the department.

The triage system allows callers to speak to an actual human more quickly, and the department
is instituting schedule changes and using different technology to allow CYFD offices across the
state to help carry the burden of new cases.

The maximum wait time for calls is expected to continue to improve as these changes and
policies are implemented.

Children’s Mental Health

The Behavioral Healthcare Collaborative, a group of 15 state agencies all working to better our
children’s mental health, met Thursday in Santa Fe with some major recommendations for
bettering psychiatric care.

Focusing on early screening, diagnoses and treatment, the goal is to provide juveniles with
appropriate care as needed. The agencies are standing together to consider and understand
trauma and its fallout, while giving investigators more resources to intervene in the best possible

“There is no wrong door to open as we enhance our safety net,” Secretary Blalock said. “Mental
health care services are scarce throughout the state, and we have been tasked with increasing
their availability. Crisis services, community-based treatment and other options will be rolled
out to keep families close together as they deal with the unexpected.”

The Collaborative is also considering ways to rebuild the state’s mental health care workforce.

“New Mexico’s kids were dealt a heavy blow when over a dozen healthcare providers were closed
without notice in 2013. We are committed to contributing every way we can to rebuilding of the
network of available doctors, therapists, and counselors throughout the state,” Blalock said.

In addition to encouraging New Mexicans to call #SAFE, CYFD would like to emphasize that
certain state child care services and free home visits can be accessed at

Saturday march

As part of Child Abuse Awareness Month, CYFD officials will be out in the community attending
the 3rd annual March Against Child Abuse at Bataan Memorial Park, 3439 Lomas Blvd, NE. The
march begins at noon Saturday. ####