The New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department provides an array of prevention, intervention, rehabilitative and after-care services to New Mexico children and their families. Their mission statement, as published, is:
Mission Statement: Improving the quality of life for our children.
- Be kind, respectful and responsive.
- Be child/youth-centric.
- Create a culture of accountability and support
- Simplify: Do fewer, bigger things that produce results.
- Behavioral Health and Program Support strategically enveloped in all programs.
- It’s all about the quality of our workers.
The position of our law practice is that like many other large organizations, the professionals working at New Mexico’s CYFD are mostly hard working and dedicated individuals. However, there are times, when given the confidentiality and nature of their work, parents and families are left not knowing what’s happening when CYFD intervenes. New Mexico has earned a very bad reputation for child welfare and CYFD workers encounter some of the worst things imaginable. But not every situation or parent falls into this tragic definition. There are times when even with the best interest of the child at heart, CYFD makes mistakes or even oversteps. This is where our law practice can help.
We are one of the very few law firms in the state of New Mexico that takes CYFD cases and has the working in-court experience to expertly represent clients. The judges are familiar with us. CYFD knows we are tough and experienced in court.
We have a team approach to CYFD cases. At your first legal consultation, a minimum of two (sometimes more) legal professionals will personally meet with you. It is important that you bring all of the facts and paperwork with you when we meet. We recommend you write down a brief outline of the dates/times that things happened, including any witnesses involved. Additionally, you should bring any letters, emails, or documents pertaining to the matter.
There are many possible outcomes to this first meeting. Here are some possibilities:
- All you neededwas some legal guidance on what to do, and what not do
- We provided you with information on what’s going to happen next and what the risks are going forward
- You schedule a second legal consultation for advice and help following a meeting or other action to obtain “next step” guidance
- Your cases warrants immediate legal representation and you engage our law practice to fully represent you
What is important to note is that not every matter involving CYFD requires full or immediate legal representation with the associated costs. Many people benefit from a series of 1-hour legal consultations as their situation progresses. This keeps costs down and allows you to navigate more confidently through a situation. At any time however, our firm can immediately step in with full representation if the situation demands.
Here are some examplesof CYFD-related matters that we can help with:
- Preparation for a Home Visit from Child Protective Services. This usually happens after CYFD receives a report of potential child abuse or neglect. It is not always known why CYFD is doing this. Sometimes an anonymous call was made, at other times the school or police may have informed them that a potential problem exists. It is strongly advised that you get legal advice from an attorney experienced in CYFD matters before the Home Visit. Preparing for this event is critical. Don’t make the mistake of thinking and knowing you’re innocent therefore nothing bad will happen.
- A false accusation has been made by another parent as part of a custody battle
- Foster parents at some stage of the adoption process learn of sudden interest by a distant biological relative out-of-state that wants the child. This can happen at the “12th hour” leaving foster parents worried and confused about the fate of a child they have nurtured and loved for an extended period of time.
- Your minor child was involved in an incident at school where APD was called, school officials are involved, and CYFD has sent a demand letter for a meeting. Examples are:
- Your child is accused of committing some type of violent or criminal act
- Your child is accused of some type of sexual act or misconduct
- Your child is accused of bullying
Many, many parents make the mistake of thinking that if they just cooperate, and tell the truth – it will be better for their child. This is a critical error. Seek legal advice before talking with anyone.
The bottomline is that when you face the potential loss of your child or children, you have very few opportunities to protect yourself and them. Seek qualified legal advice sooner rather than later.