Protect New Mexico's Children

Under the law, New Mexico is obligated to protect the wellbeing of its children and ensure they have a positive pathway forward in life. Yet, children in New Mexico’s foster care are subjected to a poorly designed system that fails to provide the resources and expertise we know are needed to help children impacted by trauma thrive.

“For years, the New Mexico foster care system has created trauma, rather than alleviating it, for the children in its care,” said Kathryn Eidmann, lead counsel and senior supervising staff attorney with Public Counsel’s Opportunity Under Law Project, a specialized unit that files impact litigation to redress root causes of economic inequities. “The system is harming the very children it was created to help in their time of greatest need. Today, 13 of those children took a stand to say enough to a system that fails to keep them safe and inflicts further harm by locking them in a recurring cycle of trauma that impacts their lifelong health and wellbeing.”

child alone

On September 22, 2018, 13 foster youth, joined by Disability Rights New Mexico and Native American Disability Law Center, filed Kevin S. v. Jacobson in United States District Court for the District of New Mexico. The lawsuit, brought on behalf of a class of trauma-impacted children and young people in the care of the state, outlines gross violations of federal law including:

•  The Rehabilitation Act;
•  The American Disabilities Act;

•  The Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause;
•  The Medicaid Act;

•  Indian Child Welfare Act.

Plaintiffs are seeking creation of a child welfare system that ensures access to critical services and expertise capable of accommodating children coping with complex trauma.
 
“As a foster youth in CYFD’s custody, I only ever felt evaluated based on a collection of my worst moments,” said Reed Ridens, a former foster youth. “I wish just once I’d been asked what I wanted and needed, and not told. No child should have to live like that.”
To learn more about what an effective child welfare system would look like check out our FAQ HERE. For more in depth information on violations of law, plaintiffs and solutions, read the full complaint.
 

Kevin S. v. Jacobson Complaint HERE

Plaintiff Profiles HERE

Press Release HERE

Media Coverage: