SANTA FE — Senator Crystal Diamond Brantley (R-Elephant Butte) today pre-filed a bill to reform and strengthen New Mexico’s Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA). Last month, the Legislative Finance Committee presented a blistering evaluation of CARA’s implementation by the Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD). The evaluation exposed a widespread failure by the department to implement and enforce family plans of care for infants born with drug and/or alcohol exposure. Of particular concern is the fact that 42 percent of families who were given a plan of care were completely unaware they had a plan. Further, almost half of families with a plan of care are not referred to substance use treatment and only 15 percent accept referrals.
Senator Brantley’s bill would require CYFD to conduct family assessments in the event of noncompliance with a CARA plan of care. Last year, a similar effort unanimously passed the Senate, but died in the House of Representatives.
Following the filing of the bill, Senator Brantley issued this statement:
“This legislation is a bipartisan solution that will save children’s lives. Infants born with drug addictions or substance exposures need immediate care, and CARA plans are a first step at ending cycles of abuse, poverty, and addiction.”
“Tragically, the management of CARA by CYFD has been lackluster at best. This bill aims to correct that by requiring that the department implement these plans of care and conduct assessments in cases of non-compliance. I hope the Governor recognizes that this problem cannot fester for one more minute, let alone another year. We must act now.”