New lawsuit alleges negligence from CYFD and workers

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – One family says the New Mexico Children Youth and Families Department knowingly put three young children in harm’s way.

Now, a recently filed lawsuit is alleging negligence from the department and CYFD workers.

“They literally took these children and swept them under the rug so no one would know what happened to them,” said Laura Seeton, a relative of the foster children.  

Seeton says this lawsuit was the only way to share her story – the story of her sister and the seven children she couldn’t care for.

Seeton is going after CYFD, alleging the department not only failed to protect her relatives but actually put them in harm’s way.

“The things these children have gone through, especially the last three that were born is horrific. So yeah, I’m past the point of being sad,” said Seeton. 

Seeton lives in Oregon. Her sister Linda Lindsay lives in Sierra County. 

The lawsuit says Lindsay had four children removed from her care due to substance use. So when she had two more, Seeton felt relief when CYFD immediately took those children into foster care after birth. 

But after three years, with a wonderful foster family, Seeton says CYFD abandoned plans to terminate parental rights. Instead of adoption, those two children, ages three and 18 months were reunited with Lindsay and her husband Richard O’Connell.

She says all of a sudden her sister had those two toddlers, and a three-month-old baby who had been born exposed to substances.

“They said to me that poverty and drug addiction should not be the only reason we assess families on,” Seeton said. 

Seeton says CYFD was called back out not even two years later after a domestic violence incident. 

The lawsuit says the trailer they were living smelled of urine, feces and rotting garbage. There was no food, and the children tested positive for meth. 

“I knew that my sister and her husband were incapable at that point to take care of their kids. It was mainly because of the astronomical things they were facing: drug addiction, domestic violence, insecurity with homes, jobs,” said Seeton. 

Seeton says her children should never have been allowed back in that home. Now, they will grow up with the trauma of everything that happened.

While the children are now out of that home. She says CYFD is not pursuing a termination of rights. 

“I believe the reason why is because it would not show up on their records as someone returning to care which is a big line item for CYFD success,” said Seeton.  

KOB 4 reached out to CYFD for comment. No one got back to us.