State cracks down on Big Brothers Big Sisters

SANTA FE (KRQE) – The state is cracking down on organizations that get state funding – like Big Brothers Big Sisters – hoping to hold them more accountable when it comes to money and the safety of children in the program.

Big Brothers Big Sisters says the changes have led to a delay in funding.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central New Mexico will get $720,000 from the state this year to help pair adults with children for one-on-one mentoring.

However, this year, it will have to meet a lot of new requirements to get that money.

“They are coming to the public for funding and so we’ve got to be accountable to the public for how those funds are spent,” said Sec. Tom Clifford with the Department of Finance and Administration.

It will require volunteers to report how many times they are meeting with the kids they are mentoring, for how many hours and where.

That is something Big Brothers Big Sisters CEO Angela Reed Padilla said will cost tens of thousands of dollars for its agencies statewide.

Reed Padilla also said the state has taken at least six months to come up with this new contract — time the organization has been left without that state funding.

Sec. Clifford said, “We realize this has been a transition year for everybody and it’s been a bit of a difficult transition, but we anticipate a much smoother process going forward.”

He said it is not just about money.

Some of the new requirements also focus on safety, making sure mentors are only meeting in public places.

A concern sparked in part by Carl Weatherman, who just last week, was indicted on federal charges of child porn.

Bernalillo County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Weatherman in December for allegedly raping a boy he was supposed to mentor as part of Big Brothers Big Sisters, taking him to his North Valley apartment.

Big Brothers Big Sisters officials said they have been working with investigators on that case and that their volunteers already undergo thorough screening interviews and layered background checks.

The state said annual audits of New Mexico Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies have never revealed any problems.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central New Mexico said the delayed contract has already forced it to layoff some of its workers and move others to part time.

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