New CYFD website provides data dashboard for the public

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – On Tuesday, the Children, Youth & Families Department took a major step forward to a more transparent future.

“I think it’s really important for people to know what we’re doing within the department,” said Acting CYFD Secretary Teresa Casados.

The embattled CYFD has faced scathing criticism over the years for not sharing enough information with the public. Now, CYFD are leaders are pulling back the curtain with an online dashboard.

The dashboard is largely limited to operational data. The five major data points highlighted at the top of the dashboard include:

  • The total number of kids in state custody (1,744 as of Tuesday)
  • Number of licensed foster homes in NM (1,007)
  • Pending investigations (4,238)
  • Grievances resolved by CYFD’s Office of Children Rights (84%)
  • CYFD vacancy rate (25.4%)

The dashboard includes detailed graphs providing more elaborate data on the points listed above. For example, one graph shows the number of foster beds across the state has gradually been decreasing since March 2021. The graph shows that decreased has directly lowered the ratio of available beds to children in placement (most recently at 1.26). 

During a virtual roundtable Tuesday, CYFD leaders referenced to a dataset showing New Mexico is below federal standards for placing children in permanent homes within 12 months of state custody.

“I don’t know that just having the dashboard itself is going to relate in, you know, better services,” said Casados. “But I think for people to see like, we’ve lowered our vacancy rate, or we’ve recruited more foster families, or, you know, give them a better idea of what we’re doing, that then, in turn, will help to make better outcomes for the constituents that we serve.”

Casados says the agency is willing to put any information legally possible on the dashboard. CYFD is still restricted from sharing certain information due to New Mexico’s Children’s Code. The dashboard does not currently include specific data on what types of neglect generate the most investigations. It does, however, include data on allegations.

State lawmakers championed a bill during the 2023 legislative session to rewrite parts of the Children’s Code to better increase transparency. That bill died before reaching Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s desk. Casados suggested the agency would support a similar effort in future legislative sessions.

“I believe that there is more information that we need to be able to share across state agencies and even with the public,” she said.

Casados says recruitment – both employees and foster families – is a top priority for CYFD right now. She believes publicizing changing vacancy and foster home data online will help the public understand the challenges CYFD is facing.

Casados also revealed Tuesday the agency recently paid out more than $200,000 in outstanding reimbursement requests to providers that work with CYFD across the state. 

Casados says the agency is still figuring out how that backlog formed.

CYFD is currently searching for a permanent cabinet secretary and several deputy leaders formed by an executive order back in February.

Officials Tuesday said those searches are still ongoing, but Casados revealed interest in the cabinet position has been limited.