As a person who served as a Vice President for the Rio Grande CASA board, and as a child advocate, the tragedy of abuse and neglect is heart wrenching and real in our state. We've witnessed the needless deaths of several children that were in the supposed safety net of our state's CYFD. Yes, it is true that there are many good and dedicated people in the system, but many are overworked and handling far too many cases.
When Governor Martinez's first Secretary of the CYFD resigned in disgrace, Martinez chose to replace her with a person who had zero education or experience in child welfare or sociology. She was the Secretary of the Tourism Department. Her education was in public relations, marketing and communications, and I'm sure she's a nice person, but this isn't about being a nice person. She was the Secretary of Tourism responsible for the #NewMexicoTrue marketing campaign. It's been a very successful marketing campaign, for tourism.
Many friends of mine unwittingly spread that campaign on behalf of a governor who views the seriousness of child advocacy as a problem to be dealt with as if the CYFD only needs a positive PR campaign. As a person who chose to care for and raise other people's children, I assure you, a child's day to day needs are not covered by a marketing campaign. There are long days and long hours of remedial homework, healthy hygiene habits, home security and consistent, loving care.
The fact is, this governor and her enablers, under the guise of austerity, refuse to fill the long term vacancies in many budgeted positions; vacancies that existed on the first day of stepping into her governorship. If in fact, children are our first consideration, then why does our CYFD continue to have a shortage of case workers, managers and other essential specialists? Let's be clear about one thing; the growing numbers of abused children are a reflection of the deep poverty wherein our state remains. This type of work is hands on and emotionally taxing, careful work, dealing with some of the most vulnerable people in our communities. The people who come into this work can get burned out when they are handling normal case load. Imagine how much worse it can be for them when they're overloaded.
It's a disgrace and disservice to the children because it's completely unnecessary. The notion of 'enablers in lip service' throughout our system of intervention infuriates me beyond words. As one example of my many years of experience..... I took custody of 2 children. During that time, the former manager of the local CYFD had a pile of files, 10 inches deep, of complaints regarding the mother and family of these 2 children, and never once did she bother to inform me of the risk or danger to my own children. The rules or bureacracy that allowed the enabling of continuing neglect and abuse to the 2 remaining children still in their mother's care, sickens me to this day.
The strength of our state's future depends upon the strengthening and healing of our struggling communities. I'm so tired of our children always having to be one of the last considerations by our community and state leaders. For a state that boasts so much wealth in the Gas & Oil Industry, that also dictates to us what quality of education we may have for our children, we need to see our political leadership demonstrate a true investment and prioritization of our children beyond 'thoughts and prayers' and photo opportunities.
They can do this through funding, aiding and supporting the creation of healthy communities; by acknowledging the reality that we can't have healthy families and children without a healthy planet that ensures clean air, land, food and water. Further to that, we must end the system of neglect, blind enabling and pretended ignorance of people's negligent work throughout our safety nets.
Our children deserve more than 'after thoughts' and public relations campaigns.