Gov. announces changes for CYFD

Posted at: 04/02/2014 12:41 PM
Updated at: 04/02/2014 5:20 PM
By: Jen Samp, KOB Eyewitness News 4; Elizabeth Reed,

Communication, follow up, recruitment. On Wednesday, Gov. Susana Martinez announced several proposals to improve child abuse investigations in New Mexico.

Martinez said she will issue an executive order later this week for the state's Children, Youth and Families Department to permanently transfer a team of investigators to the Family Advocacy Center in Albuquerque.

In addition, the governor will direct CYFD to work with local partners in other New Mexico communities to identify areas where it would be feasible and helpful to establish additional child advocacy centers.

Martinez said CYFD also needs upgraded communication tools. She said the department's software dates back to 1998. She wants to improve communication by enabling officers and CYFD to use smartphones and tablets.

The governor also wants CYFD to identify and keep track of families who have faced multiple investigations. She wants these families to undergo counseling and intervention services.

Lastly, Martinez is proposing to increase salaries of newly hired case workers by 3 percent. She wants to hire a specialized recruiter to work to identify prospects and recruit them into CYFD. Qualified applicants would also be eligible for higher pay.

"What we're trying to is make sure that the system works, that it changes in a way to protect all of our children. That the system is shaped in a way that CYFD and law enforcement work together," Martinez said.

The reform efforts come months after the death of a 9-year-old boy who Albuquerque police said was kicked to death by his own mother. CYFD had a history with Omaree and his mom, Synthia Varela-Casaus, but that there were no open cases at the time of the boy's death.