Steve Pearce, candidate for Governor, today called for systematic reforms to protect children throughout New Mexico. In front of the Children, Youth and Family Department (CYFD) offices in Albuquerque, Pearce stood with an array of advocates for child well being and laid out his plan to address the state's problems.
"We are here today because all of us are disgusted with the failure of our state to protect our children from abuse, neglect, and even death at the hand of child predators. The horrific stories are too many to list. It is now time to act. This must end. The future of our state depends on how we manage this crisis. A society that does not protect its children has no future. I am committing today that under my Administration, New Mexico will no longer be known as the place where our kids suffer at the hands of despicable predators.
"The fixes are not easy. It will require focus, management, collaboration, and a commitment to systemic change," said Pearce. "No more excuses. Together, as New Mexicans, we can change the culture of indifference in our state and make it a place where our kids grow up safe."
Steve Pearce's Plan to Protect Children and Reform CYFD
We will reform CYFD by:
Installing CYFD leadership with real world, hands on management experience in the areas of child protection, abuse investigations, behavioral/mental health, and law enforcement. The culture of allowing problems to remain unaddressed until tragedy strikes must change immediately. That starts with proper experience and tough management at the Department.
Restoring accountability. Those who by neglect of their duty, or failure to properly investigate leads, allow preventable harm to children will be disciplined, removed, and/or prosecuted as appropriate. There will be no more excuses.
Recruiting -- and paying competitively -- experts in child protection. CYFD has lost too many quality employees to other state agencies because of they pay less. This must change so CYFD is adequately staffed to handle effectively their workload and reduce turnover.
Audit CYFD to find out where the failures in child protection originate and to ensure resources are being used effectively.
Demanding improved cooperation between CYFD and law enforcement. Too many cases slip through the cracks because of poor communication between agencies. There will be a clear chain of communication with defined responsibilities when referrals of potential child abuse are received. This will include law enforcement being placed directly within CYFD to improve coordination.
Increasing the use of technology to track child abuse cases. This data will be easily accessible to both law enforcement and caseworkers to ensure no child slips through the cracks.
Provide a safe place for our children when they are removed from homes. This will include improved collaboration with the many non-profits in New Mexico who are eager to help provide solutions.
We will transform the predatory environment that we currently allow in New Mexico by:
Changing the laws in New Mexico that make it desirable to predators. We will:
Relentlessly prosecute predators. New Mexico will not tolerate child abusers. Evil cannot be rehabilitated, and we will seek the stiffest punishments possible.
If you abuse a child, you are going to jail. If you kill a child you will be hit with the maximum penalty. Reform pre-trial release through a new constitutional amendment preventing the release of dangerous individuals, especially those accused of crimes against children, back into the community.
Make abuse -- whether intentional or negligent -- that leads to the death of child a First Degree Felony in New Mexico.
Permit runaways to be placed into protective custody if they are determined to be in danger. Many states already mandate this.
Allow the state to maintain custody of children for up to 10 days while abuse claims are investigated, up from the current 48 hours.
Changing the culture of indifference in New Mexico -- the entire state coming together as one to demand better from our government at all levels. Law enforcement, the judicial system, the legislature, and the executive branch will all be held to the highest standard when it comes to protecting our children.
Drug abuse, especially methamphetamine addiction, is skyrocketing as the reason that kids are being killed or abused. Parents are prostituting their young children to pay for their drug habit.
We are going to put an end to parental abuse.
If you lose a kid due to drug or other addictions, the burden will be on your shoulders to prove you have overcome your addiction problems in order to get your kids back. Under current law you may lose a kid but when you have another child the state has to prove its case with a new investigation. The burden of proof will fall on abusive parents. We will protect our children.
Enforce meaningful mandatory parenting training for parents convicted on drug charges. You will have to prove you have kicked the habit before getting your children back.
We will support the selfless New Mexicans who devote themselves to being foster parents. We will streamline the foster care system to reduce bureaucratic burdens on foster parents. But we will provide rigorous oversight to ensure predators are not getting paid to abuse kids.
We will tackle poverty at its roots. Economic prosperity is proven to reduce the instances of child abuse in a society. It is our full intention to ignite New Mexico's economy and lift families out of poverty. We will do this by
Diversifying and growing our economy to bring higher paying jobs.