Martinez Announces $1 Million Expansion Of CYFD’s Family Support Worker Program

LOS LUNAS — Gov. Susana Martinez has announced a $1 million expansion of the Children, Youth, and Families Department (CYFD) Family Support Worker program, which she initiated as a pilot program in Bernalillo County in April of 2014.
The program will now serve six New Mexico counties and provides specifically high-risk families with service and support aimed at preventing child maltreatment. 
Martinez also urged legislators to enact stiffer penalties for those who assault child abuse caseworkers in New Mexico.
“Expanding the number of family support workers is critical to our efforts to improve child welfare in New Mexico,” Martinez said. “By engaging high-risk families and providing them with the proper support, we can better keep our children safe and promote healthy, loving homes and families.”
The Family Support Worker Program is a multifaceted, community-based service program that works with families in their homes and neighborhoods to help them meet the basic needs of their children and prevent child maltreatment and abuse.
The program is administered through local community providers based on referrals from CYFD and engages families who have faced multiple investigations by CYFD’s Protective Services Division over the last several years.
The counties being targeted for this effort include Bernalillo, Rio Arriba, Taos, Valencia, Chaves, and Dona Ana. Family support workers interact regularly with these high-risk families, providing all necessary support and services in an effort to prevent there being any future need for additional interactions with CYFD.
Training on the program has been completed with providers in all six counties and these providers have begun to receive referrals from CYFD. CYFD Cabinet Secretary Monique Jacobson joined Martinez for Monday’s announcement.
“Our mission at CYFD is to improve the quality of life for our children,” CYFD Cabinet Secretary Monique Jacobson said. “By expanding this very important program, we will now be able to provide many more New Mexico families with the necessary services aimed at preventing child maltreatment and truly improve the quality of life for the children in these families.”
The Family Support Worker program, which Martinez initiated as a pilot program in 2014 along with numerous other proposals aimed at improving the well-being of New Mexico’s children, served a total of 452 families in Bernalillo County from September of 2014 to September of 2015.
Martinez secured $1 million in CYFD’s FY16 budget to expand the program, and she will call for an additional $1 million during the upcoming legislative session for further expansion.
Martinez also called for legislation giving greater legal protection for CYFD caseworkers from assault and battery.
“Our caseworkers have one of the toughest jobs out there,” Martinez said. “It’s important that we afford these workers the same legal protection from assault and battery that is given to other professionals that serve families and children such as paramedics, teachers and sports officials.”
Under current law, it is a felony to commit assault or battery on paramedics, school employees, and sports officials like referees and umpires.
However, assault and battery on a child abuse caseworker is not a specific offense. This legislation would make assault and battery of a CYFD caseworker its own specific crime and would bring stiffer penalties.