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Mayor Keller Convenes City, State, Community Experts on Child Abuse Prevention and Coordination

City of Albuquerque, CYFD, UNMH, and dozens of community partners come together to find solutions, address challenges, increase cooperation.

April 18, 2019

This morning at Cesar Chavez Community Center in southeast Albuquerque, Mayor Tim Keller convened more than 50 representatives of local and state government, law enforcement agencies, faith groups, non-profit service providers, survivors, and advocates focused on child abuse in Albuquerque and in New Mexico. Called in response to a spate of recent tragic deaths as a result of child abuse, the convening focused on increasing coordination with a focus on prevention, intervention, and enforcement.

The meeting is the first of more to come as the City launches a Kids Cabinet to address this and other parts of the experience of childhood in Albuquerque. Today’s conversation will have an immediate impact on the level of coordination among agencies addressing different aspects of child abuse. In addition to discussing ways to work together more closely and committing to meet again, the group also discussed challenges in the current system—from funding to information sharing to points of access to various resources—that must be acted upon to move the conversation beyond enforcement to prevention.  

Mayor Tim Keller said, “Addressing the challenge of child abuse is a puzzle that’s going to take all of us working together to address. Although no single one of us can do everything, we can each do something. The group we convened today will unpack the large problems and figure out how to address them, while getting to work immediately on the low-hanging fruit. One of those immediate solutions we identified was getting these experts into the room so that we can start filling in the gaps in the system that failed these children.”

The City of Albuquerque is already working to reduce and prevent child abuse by investing in children, growing the number of spots available in youth programs, connecting families who use services like housing vouchers to resources for children and families, investing in behavioral health and addiction services, and hiring more police to grow the Crimes Against Children Unit.

Other partners highlighted steps they have already undertaken to reform systems, add resources, or more effectively serve to prevent child abuse.

CYFD has reduced wait times at the #SAFE Statewide Central Intake system from over two hours to less than twenty minutes in most cases. They are also acting on Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s commitment to rebuild the state’s behavioral health network of care, including community-based treatment, crisis services, and rebuilding a workforce of caregiving doctors, therapists, and counselors.

CYFD Secretary Brian Blalock said, “You know you’re in a special place, in a special city, when we can say we want to have a meeting and you get this many meaningful people, organizations, and voices represented in just a few days. We are all grieving, but we’re going to move that grief into something positive and go build the system we truly want for our children.”

UNM Health Sciences Center is investing funding into child abuse evaluation, screening, and prevention. They are also increasing access to pediatric behavioral health specialists at hospitals and treatment centers as well as exploring telehealth programs.
UNM Health Sciences Chief of Staff Chamiza Pacheco de Alas said, “In recognition of the unique challenges facing our state, the Health Sciences Center is focusing its policy and community engagement initiatives on child well-being, behavioral health, and healthy aging. In the areas of child well-being and behavioral health, we look forward to partnering with the city, state and non-profit organizations to ensure families receive the education, services and support needed to raise happy, healthy children.”

Partners at the table included the City of Albuquerque; New Mexico Children, Youth, and Families Department; Bernalillo County; UNM Health Sciences Center; New Mexico Children’s Cabinet; Albuquerque Police Department; Albuquerque Fire and Rescue; Albuquerque Public Schools; Advocacy, Inc.; Albuquerque Interfaith; All Faiths; Catholic Charities; CHI St. Joseph’s Children; CLN Kids; Future Focused Education; New Day; NMCAN; Outcomes, Inc.; Partnership for Community Action; Together for Brothers; and Youth Development, Inc.

The City of Albuquerque will be reporting out the results of the meeting at tonight’s Albuquerque Bernalillo County Government Commission meeting. You can see the agenda here.