CYFD urged to spend more on preventative care
Analysis by the Legislative Finance Committee has found that if the Children Youth and Families Department spent more on preventative care, it could prevent cases of repeated maltreatment of children.
At a committee hearing held Thursday in Chama, program evaluator Nathan Eckberg said that prevention programs are effective and should be prioritized.
“Much more money is invested in maintaining children in foster care than is invested in prevention or intervention,” he said, adding that a single case of child maltreatment resulting in adoption can cost taxpayers an estimated $134,000 and a single foster care placement costs around $21,000. He said, by contrast, an in-home services intervention costs about $3,700.
Analysis by the LFC found that while spending on prevention increased from $1.1 million in FY18 to $11.1 million in FY22, New Mexico still spends just 6.6% of its total Protective Services budget on prevention programs.
Speakers at the hearing, and the LFC report, noted the child welfare system has suffered from staff shortages and caseloads are higher than the national average.
Secretary of Children Youth and Family Services Barbara Vigil said it was her job to ensure the department was well-resourced so staff could do their jobs well.
“Change, real change, lasting change in a system of care takes time. But it takes determination and tenacity,” she said.
The Legislative Finance Committee noted in a newsletter that the department is working on a staffing plan to improve recruitment and retention.
New Mexico came in 50th in the annual Kids Count survey of child well-being.
This reporting was supported by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation and KUNM listeners