Brian Blalock, the embattled cabinet secretary of the New Mexico Children, Youth, and Families Department, stepped down as the leader of the state’s child protective services agency. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham cited “administrative missteps” when announcing the leadership change.
A first round of pandemic aid payments to young adults transitioning out of foster care is expected to go out this month after New Mexico received $1.8 million from the federal government for the program. Information on the second round of applications—open to New Mexicans aged 21 to 26 who were involved in the state foster care system—will be available on the CYFD.org homepage in early August, according to the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department.
Cliff and Debra Gilmore say they didn’t have any ties to New Mexico when the married couple uprooted from their lives in Vancouver, Washington, to move to Santa Fe, where they landed jobs with the state Children, Youth and Families Department in late 2020. But the Gilmores’ stints at the agency didn’t last long. They were both fired on May 6 in what they allege in a lawsuit was an act of retaliation for raising ethical concerns.
Recently released data from the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows improvements to New Mexico’s child well-being, but the state remains a tough place to be a kid. The 2021 national Kids Count Data Book ranks New Mexico 49th in the nation in 16 key child well-being indicators such as child poverty and teen birth rates. The state jumped ahead of Mississippi, which fell to the bottom of the country for overall child well-being.
The brutal abuse of a New Mexico toddler, allegedly by her parents, has pitted the state’s child protective services against the girl’s former foster mother, who sought help online after the child and her siblings went missing. The little girl, whose name is being withheld by this magazine, was abandoned at a North Carolina hospital with a fractured skull in October 2020—six months after she and her siblings disappeared following a trial home visit with their biological parents.
New Mexico education officials are budgeting up to $10 million in pandemic relief money to create internships. As many as 2,600 students across New Mexico could participate in the internship program, according to the Public Education Department, which announced the program on Tuesday. The department started developing the program last year, and is in the process of hiring up to 150 part-time adult coordinators.
Child Tax Credit payments are a key part of Democrats' COVID-19 aid bill passed in March, but for policymakers they are more than just an attempt to help families recover from the pandemic. The monthly checks of up to $300 per child for millions of families are part of an ambitious attempt to shrink child poverty and rethink the American social safety net in the process.
A bill that would have prohibited life sentences and mandated earlier probation eligibility for juveniles has failed to become law in New Mexico, exposing deep rifts between those seeking judicial reform and victim advocates.