ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) – New Mexico’s embattled child welfare agency has been slow to set up home visiting services two years after winning a federal grant, a new evaluation said.
The evaluation found the state had set up home visiting services for children at only two of the four communities planned as pilot sites, the Albuquerque Journal reports.
The Children, Youth and Families Department received the two-year $2.65 million grant in September 2011 to set up pilot programs at sites in Luna, Quay and McKinley counties and Albuquerque’s South Valley. The state’s original plan called for home visiting programs to be in operation at all four by September 2012, the report said.
“The evaluation we conducted shows that, after two years, a small amount of progress has been made” toward the project’s objectives, according to the evaluation by RAND Corp., a nonprofit think tank based in Arlington, Virginia.
The state paid RAND about $300,000 to evaluate the grant program from September 2011 to November 2013, CYFD estimated. The report was published online in July.
“McKinley County and South Valley did not begin home visiting services as part of this project during the evaluation time frame,” the report said. Only Luna and Quay counties had started home visiting programs, it said.
Dan Haggard, the agency’s deputy director for programs in the early childhood services division, said the plan to start all four programs in a year “was really impossible” because state procurement laws caused delays in selecting contractors.
The state agency recently came under scrutiny for its handling of an abuse claim made by a 9-year-old Albuquerque boy who police said died after he was kicked repeatedly by his mother last year.
The boy had disclosed previous abuse to school officials about a year before his death. That report was investigated by CYFD, but officials there said they didn’t have any active cases involving the family at the time of the boy’s death.
The case prompted changes in the way CYFD investigates child abuse claims.