- Associated Press - Saturday, December 12, 2015

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - The head of the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department has approved adding a new box to applications forms for child care assistance that parents can check off to indicate to state workers that contacting a former abuser for support would endanger their family.

The Albuquerque Journal (https://bit.ly/1M9F0et) reports the decision comes after single parents and members of the OLE Working Parents Association testified before the Legislative Health and Human Services Committee and held a demonstration in front of a Children, Youth and Families Department office in Albuquerque.

“We met with senior CYFD officials for over a year and a half to explain how they were endangering women who had survived domestic violence,” Raquel Roybal of OLÉ told the Journal.

During the protest in October, demonstrators chanted “CYFD we are not your property” and “CYFD must protect our families.”

Leaders of the association leaders, which advocates for economic reform, said before the change to the forms was announced that they had heard from dozens of women who said state child-care assistance applications came with conditions that required domestic violence victims to get a restraining order against their former partners and to sue abusers for child support.

At the time of the protest, a department spokesman disputed that was the case, and said that the agency hadn’t been given names of state employees who may have given such erroneous information. Meanwhile, department spokesman Henry Varela added that the agency wanted women who weren’t victims of domestic violence to sue for child support because their doing so could free up state child care money for women too fearful to sue an abuser.

The new check box on forms requesting child care assistance from the state may add a new level of protection for domesticate violence victims, giving them a chance to clarify for state workers that contacting or suing an abuser for money would endanger them.

However, it does not change that victims also must submit a written statement as part of the waiver process, saying why contacting a former partner for child support could put them at risk.

“The check box is simply an additional avenue to remind applicants that there is a waiver available to them where there has been past domestic violence, and it is a further reminder to a case worker that the applicant is in need of such a waiver,” Varela said. “We want all families who quality for child care assistance to take advantage of it, and we want to continue to make the process easier so there is no fear that a person will have to confront a former abuser.”


Information from: Albuquerque Journal, https://www.abqjournal.com

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