Gov. Lujan Grisham signs executive order to reform CYFD

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SANTA FE, N.M. — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has signed an executive order that will completely rework the state’s Children, Youth and Families Department.

The order requires immediate changes in how the department operates and sets out a long-term vision for how the department will strengthen its practices. 

“This is a system that is fundamentally broken, and this executive order sets in motion immediate and meaningful action to transform this system,” Lujan Grisham said. “We are coming together with partners in the Legislature, experts working in the field, and children and families themselves to do everything in our power to make New Mexico children safer.”  


  • Elevates the divisions of the agency that need and deserve increased attention and increased transparency: Protective Services, Juvenile Justice and Emergency Health and Behavioral Services. 
  • Empowers staff to provide every child who needs a placement in an emergency. This new Emergency Health group will be single-mindedly focused on making sure that every child has a safe, stable place to stay, whether that’s an emergency overnight stay at an appropriate treatment center or a placement with a foster family. 
  • Brings in voices from every area of the child-welfare community – service providers, families who have interacted with CYFD, attorneys, behavioral health providers. This group will provide another layer of accountability, but it will also be a vital part of how New Mexico rebuilds and reinvigorates the department. 
  • Builds a system that hears the concerns of its constituents and skillfully responds. New Mexico will establish a grievance system that allows families to engage in meaningful dialogue with the agency. 
  • Requires the agency to undergo an annual independent audit.  
  • Creates an Office of Innovation that identifies and brings to New Mexico the best practices from around the country that improve child welfare outcomes. 

The governor said a leadership announcement will likely come once the legislative session ends, and suggested this is not the final solution for the embattled department. She added that she will continue to work with lawmakers on new legislation to improve how the department operates.