By Rep. Kelly Fajardo (R-District 7)

Antonio Gurule was a beautiful two-year-old boy who was thriving in foster care. His foster parents, who had tended to him since he was two months old, welcomed him into their family and tried to adopt him.

They were not successful. Three months ago, Antonio was returned to the custody of his biological mother. On September 3, he was found unresponsive in his crib with blood coming from his nose and a half-dollar sized lump on his head. The Office of the Medical Investigator determined he had died the night before.

Antonio’s name now joins a list of other children who were failed by New Mexico’s child protection system. Jeremiah Valencia. Victoria Martens. Omaree Varela. These children might still be with us today had our children’s services done a better job.

New Mexico’s rate of children dying from child abuse and neglect is consistently above the national average. Too many children in our state have experienced abuse and trauma. The annual number of reported child abuse victims climbed from 4,846 in 2009 to a peak of 10,664 in 2015. Although we have made some progress in reducing that number, it’s still not enough.

Child abuse resulting in death has to stop. We need a complete overhaul of our state’s child protection practices that takes a comprehensive view of children’s services and includes input from stakeholders if we want improve child safety in New Mexico.

Real reform requires looking at the entire system and making comprehensive changes. Steve Pearce has developed such a plan. His strategy includes specific ideas for reforming our Children, Youth and Families Department, overhauling protective custody procedures, and reexamining policies that prematurely remove children from safe foster care environments and returns them to unstable family situations. It looks at the child services system from every angle and offers solutions that will make a difference.

Unfortunately, some politicians are so singularly focused on increasing government spending that they advocate throwing more money at already overfunded programs. Their answer is to take money from the state’s permanent fund to expand home visitation programs. However, providers throughout the state are returning home visitation funds back to the government because of a lack of demand for this service. The home visitation program is voluntary, and the families of the children who would most benefit from this service often refuse to enroll.

Significantly, the permanent fund option ignores the voice of the people on the front lines: the direct service providers and others in the trenches who work these issues every day. Expanding home visitation is a top-down approach advocated by people working in office buildings in Albuquerque and Santa Fe. It’s time for us to listen to front-line providers and ask them what will help them protect our children. Being willing to have honest, and potentially uncomfortable, conversations with people at every level of the system is the first step to identifying the problems and fixing them.

As it stands, our state’s services for child health and well-being are a shattered collection of good intentions and failed policies. It’s time to start over and build a functional system that protects our children and allows them to thrive. Steve Pearce’s plan will help.

Band-aid solutions aren’t enough. It’s time to perform major surgery on our child services system. Like any surgery, there will be some pain involved, and it might take a while to heal. But it will be worth it if we can prevent another child’s name from being added to that tragic list of children we have lost.

Live from Silver City

Join GCB Three Times Weekly Updates

Welcome to Three Times Weekly Updates! You will be subscribed to email notifications with links to recently posted articles.
You can unsubscribe anytime. We never share or rent your email to anyone.

Fire Alerts

Editor's Note

Mary Alice tried out a different format for reporting the lengthy County Commission preliminary budget hearing. Instead of traditional narrative sentences, to do it more quickly and efficiently, she put the name of each speaker before a paraphrased version of their comments. Questions were not necessarily asked by the speaker, but they were answered by the one replying. Please let editor@grantcountybeat.com know if you love, hate or are indifferent about the format. It may lead to how some reports are written henceforth in order to get them out in a more timely manner.

Mary Alice is back, but on slow-mo, trying to catch up with all that didn't get done before she had to leave. And doing everything that happened after she got back! Working on it

Those new to providing news releases to the Beat are asked to please check out submission guidelines at http://www.grantcountybeat.com/about/submissions. They are for your information to make life easier on the readers, as well as the editor.

Classifieds: Check periodically to see if any news ones have popped up. Welcome to our new version of classified ads.  We invite you our readers to post your own classifieds, which are available for viewing 24/7 and are very reasonable in price, because you do all the work yourselves. A recent classified for a van brought a sale within two days. It's really easy to check to see if there's a classified ad. Just click on Classifieds in the blue menu and the page will open letting you know if there is a classified ad. Remember that your buying classified ads gives you a wide readership, as well as supporting the Beat. Post YOURS for quick results!

Images: We have received complaints about large images blocking parts of other articles. If you encounter this problem, click on the title of the article you want to read and it will take you to that article's page, which shows only that article without any intruders. It's a software problem, not easily fixable, other than showing fewer articles per summary page. If you are a frequent visitor, you might not mind fewer articles per page, but if you only come once in a while, you likely want to see more articles to browse. Write me at editor@grantcountybeat.com to let me know your feelings on this issue. 

Compliance: Because you are an esteemed member of The Grant County Beat readership, be assured that we at the Beat continue to do everything we can to be in full compliance with GDPR and pertinent US law, so that the information you have chosen to give to us cannot be compromised. 

New Columnists: The Beat continues to bring you new columnists.Recent additions  include one about end of life options, Compassionate Care.

The Beat has a column for you gardeners out there. The Grant County Extension Service will bring you monthly columns on gardening issues. The first one posted is on Winterizing your houseplants and patio plants.

The Beat totally appreciates its readers and subscribers!  


All articles and photos indicated by a byline are copyrighted to the author or photographer. You may not use any information found within the articles without asking permission AND giving attribution to the source. Photos can be requested and may incur a nominal fee for use personally or commercially.

NOTE: If an article does not have a byline, it was sent to the Beat and written by someone not affiliated with the Beat

Don't forget to tell advertisers that you saw their ad on the Beat.

Newsletter: If you subscribe to the Join GCB Three Times Weekly Updates option on the left side of this page, you will be subscribed to email notifications with links to recently posted articles.

Here for YOU: Consider the Beat your DAILY newspaper for up-to-date information about Grant County. It's at your fingertips! One Click to Local News.

Feel free to notify editor@grantcountybeat.com, if you notice any problems on the site. Your convenience is my desire for the Beat.

Thanks for your support for and your readership of Grant County's online news source—www.grantcountybeat.com