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Let's talk about our troubled foster care system

Nenad Stojkovic

Children in New Mexico who have entered the foster care system are finding they often have nowhere to go. At any given time there are between2,000 and 2,600 children in foster care in the state and with a shortage of foster homes and licensed residential treatment centers, foster youth are staying in offices and shelters that don’t have the resources necessary to care for them.

This comes after the Children, Youth, and Families Department promised in a lawsuit to stop placing kids in youth shelters, offices and other places that don’t provide mental health care. However, a recent reporting series in Searchlight New Mexico found that not only are foster youth still being placed in shelters but those shelters often are not told much about the kids they’re taking in and do not have the capacity to provide needed health and mental health care. It’s reported that between January 2019 and June 2022 over 1,100 emergency calls were made by shelters who were housing foster kids. Many fosters are still lacking mental health care and stable living arrangements.

This reflects a 2021 annual reportevaluating the state’s adherence to the Kevin S. lawsuit settlement. It shows neither the Human Services Department nor the Children, Youth, and Families Department had met the Performance Standard set out by the settlement and have fallen short on their goals.CYFD's 2022 annual reportrecognizes changes have been slow and lasting change will take time.

On this week’s Let’s Talk New Mexico, we’ll take a look at the current standing of our child welfare system and what it will take to ensure foster youth are finding supportive placements, while working to comply with the Kevin S. lawsuit. And we want to hear from you! Have you been in the foster care system? What was that experience like? Are you, or have you considered becoming a foster parent? Share your experience by emailing us at LetsTalk@kunm.org or call in live during the show at 505-277-5866.


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This coverage is made possible by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and KUNM listeners.

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Taylor is a reporter with our Poverty and Public Health project. She is a lover of books and a proud dog mom. She's been published in Albuquerque The Magazine several times and enjoys writing about politics and travel.