Created: 04/03/2014 12:46 PM
By: KOB.com Web Staff
A day after announcing proposals for improving child abuse investigations in the state, Gov. Susana Martinez has issued two executive orders aimed at bettering communication between child welfare caseworkers and law enforcement officers.
The orders direct the state's Children, Youth and Families Department to implement policy change requiring families who have been investigated multiple times to be reviewed by a high-level supervisory team. This team will include the county office manager, supervisor, caseworker, and children's court attorney.
The governor also required CYFD caseworkers to seek and review police reports and other law enforcement materials related to the cases they work before rendering a final investigative decision. Her order directs all law enforcement entities under the state's control to comply in a timely fashion with any CYFD request for this information.
"This new approach allows us to take a more proactive, deeper interest in families where CYFD has been regularly called to intervene, even when investigations of those incidents were unable to substantiate abuse or neglect of the children in the home," Martinez said. "Something's clearly happening in these homes that periodic interaction with a family support worker and counseling services might be able to address."
Martinez also announced the creation of a pilot program in Bernalillo County, establishing a new class of child welfare caseworker known as "family support workers."
To start, a team of roughly 10 family support workers will be hired to regularly interface with families in Bernalillo County who have been the subject of three or more child welfare investigations in the past 10 years, connecting those families to services, visiting their homes and monitoring the use and effectiveness of interventions.
If the program is successful at helping these families avoid further interaction with CYFD and law enforcement, the family support worker model could be extended to other areas of the state.