Group aims to improve laws surrounding foster care

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A group assembled to spark change heard perspective Thursday from two women who went through New Mexico’s foster care system.

The New Mexico Supreme Court’s Children’s Court Improvement Commission created a task force that is looking at the Children’s Code, which is the legal framework that ensures a child’s care. The group could ultimately recommend changes for the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department, or CYFD.

In an online meeting, one former foster child said she’s now a youth leader after spending 14 years in foster care. Because of her experience, she worries about over-medicating kids in the system.

“Sometimes not everyone needs that mental facility help,” she said. “It was like my own personal prison. It was very terrifying.”

She said she felt a lack of support, even after a family adopted her for a time, and said adults who were caring for her mistreated her.

“That followed me through every foster home and every placement,” she said.

There was a discussion about whether foster kids are too often missing school for appointments.

“School was my sanctuary, so it was really hard for me,” she said.

Another speaker agreed there can be a lack of communication. As a former foster child too, she said after the system separated her and her eight siblings, she once went years without even communicating with them.

“That would be a great way to help other families and youth who do go into foster care, to make sure that there is a great line of communication,” she said.

She said she’s now going to college after spending 10 years in the foster care system and going to four different middle schools.

The task force members said a lot of the comments they heard were “eye-opening.”