Blalock: I’ll give you a few quick examples. One is this idea that if you really want to help super vulnerable, super traumatized youth, what you do is we have to build out community-based mental health services in a culturally competent way so that the youth and their families actually want to take advantage of them. We tend to make mental health services overly political and overly diagnostic at the front end, and we need to think about how to make those services actually attractive to youth as some states have done. Another big one is extended foster care — extending the age that a youth is eligible for foster care services from 18 to 21. New Mexico is late to the game in looking at this, and it’s a program that has been shown to reduce homelessness, reduce incarceration and improve child well-being. Think about where you were when you were 18. Would you have been able to be on your own without any help from your family, and been able to find your own housing, insurance and all that? For most people the answer is probably not — that’s a really tough spot to be in, yet that’s what we do for our kids when the state is the parent.
Brian Blalock, New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department secretary. (Photo: Don J. Usner / Searchlight New Mexico) Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has made her commitment to children a mainstay of her next four years in office. By every metric, New Mexico is considered the worst state in the […]