Albuquerque rallies for child abuse prevention

Posted at: 04/04/2014 8:16 AM
Updated at: 04/04/2014 12:37 PM
By: Nikki Ibarra and Elizabeth Reed, KOB Eyewitness News 4

City leaders and advocates rallied on Friday against child abuse in downtown Albuquerque.

People wearing blue gathered in the convention center to speak out about the issue and to raise awareness for child abuse prevention month.

The rally comes just a day after Gov. Susana Martinez signed two executive orders aimed at improving child welfare in the state.

The governor's directives focus on reforming the state's Children, Youth and Families Department, including a policy change that requires families who have been investigated multiple times to be reviewed by a high-level supervisory team.

The executive orders also require CYFD case workers to review police reports and other law enforcement materials about the cases before making a final investigative decision.

These reform efforts were all sparked by the case involving 9-year-old Omaree Varela. Albuquerque police said he was kicked to death by his mother, Synthia Varela-Casaus.

CYFD and the Albuquerque Police Department were ostracized following Omaree's death. Some critics said the departments dropped the ball because there were previous cases involving Omaree and his mom.

Community members want to make sure something like this never happens again.