Lawsuit claims broken CYFD system results in abusive conditions for foster children | KOB 4
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Lawsuit claims broken CYFD system results in abusive conditions for foster children

Kassi Nelson
September 23, 2018 10:47 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department, as well as the Human Services Department, is under fire after more than a dozen foster children have filed a lawsuit claiming the state is running a broken system.

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The lawsuit alleges thousands of children are taken from abusive situations in our state only to be thrown into conditions that are nearly as bad. It details the situations of 13 foster children in particular, all of whom claim they have been let down by the system.

Not only that, they say they’re now worse off because of the practices of CYFD and HSD.

The lawsuit states New Mexico lacks a system to ensure stable placement in safe and supportive homes. A 14-year-old cited in the lawsuit has been through at least 11 placements during his two times in state custody and spent two nights sleeping the CYFD office, which has neither a formal sleeping space nor a shower.

That’s before he was sent to a treatment facility in Colorado, where he claims he was repeatedly abused by staff and other residents. According to the lawsuit, he received black eyes and other facial wounds, but CYFD kept him there for a year despite multiple reports of the harm he endured.

The lawsuit also claims CYFD and HSD fail to meet medical, mental, and behavioral health screenings and treatment. The children included in the lawsuit said they didn’t receive those services for months while in CYFD custody. They claim that unaddressed trauma has impacted their ability to eat, sleep, concentrate and communicate, among other things.

CYFD Spokesperson Henry Varela sent KOB a statement reading, “When it comes to foster care, we are continuously working to improve the system overall.”

Varela also added the department hasn’t been officially served with the lawsuit as of Sunday night.

The lawsuit also alleges CYFD is severely understaffed and doesn’t train its staff adequately. Varela said the department has reduced their turnover rate and added nearly 100 more workers in the past three-and-a-half years.

KOB reached out to the Human Services Department for this story but have not yet heard back.

Credits

Kassi Nelson

Copyright 2018 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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