Albuquerque, February 18—The Republican Party of New Mexico exhorts all lawmakers to pass HB-284, which would provide for an independent investigation into abuse, neglect, kidnapping and death of foster children.
HB-284, a bipartisan bill, cosponsored by Republicans Rep. Rebecca Dow and Rep. Ryan Lane, offers an appeals process by which Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD) cases would be heard by an independent body, the existing Administrative Hearings Office. This important bill that has life-saving implications has yet to be heard.
At present, CYFD acts as its own watchdog investigating such cases, but the state’s system is broken, in need of reform, and it’s time to fix this heart-wrenching crisis that endangers so many children. In the past, CYFD task force meetings haven’t been open to the public, with virtually no transparency. CYFD has operated in a shroud of secrecy.
HB-284 is common-sense legislation that’s well overdue after years of failed leadership, management, lawsuits and tragedies at the hands of CYFD. For years the child welfare department has been unable to manage an ongoing crisis facing our foster kids in New Mexico.
Under HB-284 the Administrative Hearings Office would help ensure better accountability and closer examination at the workings surrounding this embattled Department. At present the Office only hears MVD and tax protest cases.
“The problems at CYFD are systemic and endanger our children,” says RPNM Chairman Steve Pearce. “HB 284 is important because it is at least a start at making the Department more accountable. Having the Administrative Hearings Office look into the problems and cases will provide more insight, lead to justice and hopefully save lives in these horrific cases against children.”
HB 284 will ensure that foster parents like Jill Jones of Hobbs receive justice.
Jill was a foster parent for 12 years. While she fostered four children, CYFD decided to send the children back to their parents on a trial basis. Those parents then kidnapped the kids and took them out of state.
Jill desperately tried to find them.
Three were found in Houston. Another was found in North Carolina with skull fractures. CYFD never reported these crimes or the missing kids and even hid the location of the criminal parents. CYFD later revoked Jill’s license to remain a foster parent. She was even sued by the Department.
This kind of action by CYFD must end.
“Ultimately, it’s the children in New Mexico who are the real victims here,” said Jones. “This bill needs to pass to ensure that we are doing everything to make sure our children are always safe. Foster parents and all those who care for these kids must be able to stand up and speak up for them, criticize CYFD and advocate for changes without fear of retaliation.”
HB 284 is a bill that aims to investigate these kinds of crimes and abuse outside CYFD with a goal to protect our kids and ensure they have a safe haven when removed from their homes.