Report says CARA shortcomings are putting children at risk
SANTA FE, N.M. — The state’s Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act is aimed at helping infants born with drug or alcohol exposure and their families.
The 2019 law requires the state to create a plan of care to get families help, while keeping them together. However, over the last four years, 4 Investigates discovered those efforts have fallen short and many young children have ultimately paid the price of their parent’s addiction.
“A vast majority of these families don’t appear to be getting services, given the whole safety net of the process that’s the part we’re most concerned about.”
It’s the main takeaway from a new program evaluation report presented to the Legislative Finance Committee Friday, saying most families are not getting support, and there is no mechanism the state is using to track those families, that progress, or those babies.
LFC Chair and Sen. George Munoz noted a lack of time for the lack of CYFD participation, but the program is in its fourth year. The report says the New Mexico Department of Health and CYFD have not evaluated CARA since its first year, limiting information and accountability.
CYFD Secretary Teresa Casados says the department needs more time and resources to fulfill its original goals. Some lawmakers redirected the conversation entirely, but others vowed a fix – saying it’s time for accountability.
The report made several recommendations adding guardrails, like prenatal plans of care, ways to monitor the progress and completion of those plans, and meaningful follow up.
CYFD will have 30 days to go through the presentation and the numerous recommendations. The agency is expected to respond at the end of that period to address those recommendations – whether they agree with them, and if they will implement them.
To watch the hearing, click here. The full report is available below.
- 4 Investigates: Is CARA helping or hurting families struggling with substance abuse?
- 4 Investigates: New Mexico’s CARA Program