Attorney explains why foster children are suing NM agencies | KOB 4
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Attorney explains why foster children are suing NM agencies

Megan Abundis
September 24, 2018 06:41 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.— The New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department and the Human Services Department are facing a lawsuit from 13 foster children.

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They claim children are taken from abusive homes and thrown into a system that traumatizes them further.

"CYFD has a lot of work to do," said Michael Hart, a lawyer on the case. "There is a lot of work that has to be done to make the system better."

The nearly 100-page lawsuit details each child's experience while in CYFD care. It accuses the state of an inadequate system to ensure stable placement in safe and supportive homes.

According to the plaintiffs, ranging between 1 to 17 years old, “foster children are cycled through short-term emergency shelters, foster placements, residential treatment facilities, hospitals, even overnights in state government offices,” impacting a child ’s ability to eat, sleep, concentrate and communicate.

CYFD runs the foster care system but it's funded primarily by Medicaid, which is why the New Mexico Human Services Department is also named as a defendant.

"What we are demanding is that CYFD and HSD work together," Hart said.

Hart says it starts with training, adding more social workers and foster parents.

"We need to spend the money and energy training foster parents giving them the tools they need."

In a statement, CYFD says it has added at least 250 more foster parents and nearly 100 more field workers over the last 3.5 years.

But Hart says New Mexico children deserve better.

"Our hope is that, very quickly, policy makers and decision makers sit down with us and talk to us about these issues," Hart told KOB.

CYFD says the department is continuously working to improve the foster care system overall.

A representative also said the department has not officially been served with the lawsuit.

KOB has not heard from the Human Services Department.

Credits

Megan Abundis

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

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