Introduction, Trends & Considerations
In FY22, CYFD investigated a total of 20,878 total child maltreatment reports. Of these, 4,396 were substantiated. In comparison, CYFD conducted 19,021 investigations in FY21 with 4,617 substantiations. Caseloads for Protective Services (PS) investigators have remained consistent in the previous year, with the number per investigator this year meeting national Child Welfare League of America standards of 12 new reports per month. CYFD Protective Services has seen an increase in the number of backlog cases and number of pending investigations. For example, statewide in August of 2022, there were 498 overdue cases and 2,160 pending investigations, in August of 2023, there were 1,737 overdue cases and 2,296 pending investigations. CYFD has also increased caseworker visits with children in foster care in efforts to keep children safe while maintaining the percent of children visited at least once per month between 93.4% and 96.7% from August of 2022 through August 2023.
As part of the 2020-2024 Child and Family Service Plan, New Mexico has worked across the state’s child welfare system to support the prevention of child and youth maltreatment and work toward better outcomes for children and families. CYFD continues to work with key stakeholders in creating an equitable child welfare system, with a diverse group of individuals to better understand the impact of system involvement to improve services and outcomes statewide.
In preparation for the state’s Child and Family Services Review, New Mexico is in the early stages of identifying how community and stakeholder involvement will be the foundations for identifying promising practices and work on areas needing improvement in not only CYFD, but across the service array and judicial system. CYFD recognizes the need for community and stakeholder input in making meaningful system changes and continues to work with partners across the state.
CYFD also increased spending to expand community based, contracted services for Family Support Services (FSS) and In-Home Services (IHS) for families referred to Protective Services and are at high risk for future referrals to the agency or incidents of abuse or neglect. These programs work directly with parents and families to reduce the risk of future maltreatment while preventing removal and maintaining children at home with their caregivers. CYFD further expanded its Time-Limited Reuniﬁcation (TLR) services which provide essential supportive services to parents and children to support successful and long-term transitions home from foster care. The FSS, IHS, and TLR expansions also involve greater collaboration with community partners and organizations who contract with CYFD to provide these essential services for families.
One of CYFD’s strategies for keeping children safe is through the expansion of housing supports, as well as providing more resources and support to families and relatives of children who are at risk of maltreatment. This year CYFD increased spending on shelter services to prevent homelessness, including facility-based shelter, family-based shelters, multi-service facilities, and maternity homes.
Another of CYFD’s priorities is to create more appropriate placements that are stable as well as culturally and linguistically appropriate. Ensuring supportive and stable placements is essential, not only for children’s safety, but also for their physical, emotional, and social well-being and for family connection.