Steve Jansen

Jansen is a New Mexico-based investigative reporter who has won and been nominated for state, regional, and national awards, including the Best of the West, Maggies: Association of Black Journalists Awards. In 2013, his investigation into two crumbling dams in Houston was awarded first place for Best Print News/Feature Story in the Texas statewide Lone Star Awards competition. Jansen is a former staff writer for the Phoenix New Times and Houston Press, and currently reports on child welfare in New Mexico for the Center for Sustainable Journalism. Jansen holds a bachelor's degree in business finance and marketing from the University of Arizona, and is pursuing a dual bachelor's degree in Native American studies and American studies from the University of New Mexico.

A New Mexico foster mom posted about missing children on Facebook. Child services is suing her for it.

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. 

Ban on juvenile life without parole fails in New Mexico

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. 

Behind bars since age 16, juvenile lifer watches New Mexico struggle over sentencing reform

Michael Brown is one of dozens of people in New Mexico who received what juvenile justice reformists call “de-facto life sentences” — sentences so long they will likely never be released — for crimes committed as minors. He is a vocal supporter of youth sentencing reforms, part of a national movement to rehabilitate juvenile offenders and make them eligible for parole earlier.

Fired New Mexico child services employees file whistleblower lawsuit

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.

Native activists hail passage of New Mexico Indian Family Protection Act

New Mexico lawmakers passed a bill that strengthens protections for Native American children in state care. The New Mexico Indian Family Protection Act enshrines in state law key provisions of the federal Indian Child Welfare Act, which gives preference to Native families and communities when it comes to fostering or adopting Indigenous children. 

New Mexico child welfare agency gets funding boost

New Mexico’s child protective services department is set to receive a funding boost officials say will be used to improve services for foster youth, including creating more specialized placements for some of the state’s most vulnerable kids. During the 2022 New Mexico Legislature, state lawmakers approved a 9.4% funding increase for the Children, Youth and Families Department. CYFD, which asked for nearly $255 million for its general fund ahead of the legislative session, will receive approximately $230 million for its 2023 general fund operating budget.

New Mexico child welfare agency seeks more funding as lawmakers convene

The New Mexico Children, Youth, and Families Department (CYFD), which oversees child protective services, asked the state Legislature for a $41.5 million increase to its budget for 2023. CYFD requested $254,948,200 for its general fund, which makes up about 70 percent of its overall budget. It was given $213,423,200 for 2022. 

New Mexico court reiterates need for sentencing reform in granting parole to juvenile lifer 

Michael Brown, who was expected to spend the rest of his life behind bars, had been serving one of the state’s longest sentences for a crime committed as a child due to his involvement in the 1994 murders of his grandparents. He will be eligible for parole in February 2024 following a New Mexico district court decision. 

New Mexico CYFD routinely deletes information that could be life-saving for kids, attorneys and lawmakers charge

For at least the past two years, Albuquerque lawyer Antonia Roybal-Mack says that when representing some of the most vulnerable children in the state, she receives skimpy background information from the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD). “Every single time we get records from CYFD, they aren’t complete. They’ll send us the file and we know there’s stuff specifically missing because we get [the missing] information from other places,” says Roybal-Mack. “We’re litigating with one hand tied behind our backs.”

New Mexico head of child services steps down following controversies

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.

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