Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Child deaths prompt external review of New Mexico child welfare agency | Local News

New Mexico Children, Youth, and Family Secretary Barbara Vigil, who held the cabinet level last month, plans to hire an outside agency to undertake a full review of her department’s intervention procedures following at least three violent child deaths this year perform.

Most recently, 30-year-old Kiria Milton was charged on Monday for killing her 1-month-old son Waylon Padilla in Valencia county. Although the child was not being placed in a foster home, the Children, Youth and Family Department had previously been informed that Milton had been hospitalized for mental health problems and that her husband had taken custody of the boy and his older brother, it says in a court document.

“Every time a child dies, this is a serious incident in the eyes of CYFD,” Vigil said in an interview on Friday.

According to its current logs, the department is conducting a “critical incident review” and an internal investigation into the death of every child whose family has been involved in CYFD, she said.

She wants to go one step further.

Vigil said she plans to hire an “outside, independent” organization to do a thorough review of the Department of Interventions’ policies and procedures when a child may be abused or neglected, with the aim of determining “whether we can make improvements.” should. ”

She had planned to have third-party analysis of CYFD when she took the job, said Vigil, a former judge on the state’s Supreme Court. But the death of Valencia County made it “more necessary” to get the job done quickly.

A criminal complaint filed in Valencia County Court said MPs arrived at Milton’s house on Monday after calling 911 and telling a dispatcher that there was a dead baby in her room. Her husband was out of town at the time and she was “hysterical” when she made the call, the ad said. According to the document, MPs found the child with severe bruises on the face and head.

Milton’s pre-trial detention motion says she called 911 a week earlier because she was having a nervous breakdown. She told a dispatcher that she “didn’t want to hurt the child” and that she needed help. Milton has been hospitalized, the application says. Authorities contacted CYFD and Milton’s husband took custody of their two children – the 1 month old and a 4 year old boy.

After Milton was released from hospital, her husband left town, the application said, leaving the baby and older boy in her care.

The Valencia County Sheriff’s office did not respond to requests for comments on the case.

“The boy was in the care of a parent / guardian rather than a foster family at the time of his death,” CYFD said in a statement. “The department is investigating and once this process is complete the department is legally empowered to provide summary information.”

Waylon’s death marks at least the third alleged death from child abuse in 2021, said CYFD spokesman Charlie Moore-Pabst.

In September Shaquille Ferguson Sr. was charged with drowning his 5 year old son Shaquille Ferguson Jr. Police believe the boy died in a Truth or Consequences park in the Rio Grande. A month later, Albuquerque’s Michael David Garcia was charged with fatally molesting his two-year-old daughter Diana McGrory, court records show.

Vigil said she wasn’t sure when her agency’s external review would begin.

“I think we need it asap,” she said.

“Well how soon will that be? I’m not sure, ”she added. “We’ll likely have to go through a procurement process to make sure the contract meets all of our government requirements and then select a company that does.”

Moore-Pabst noted that the results and recommendations of the report will be available to the public.

State House spokesman Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, was unavailable Friday for comment on Vigil’s plans for her agency to review.

State Representative Kelly Fajardo, a Republican from Los Lunas, said an external review of the CYFD was “much overdue”.

“My concern is that this is just lip service to a brand new secretary trying to look good?” said Fajardo. “We had very high hopes [previous CYFD Secretary Brian] Blalock when he came in and he was a big disappointment. “

Fajardo said she praised Milton for trying to seek help with her mental condition. “She had the courage to say, ‘I need help.’ ”

“CYFD has this ideology that regardless of whether a child should always be with the mother,” added Fajardo. “And we know that this is not always true.”

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