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Health And Public Safety

Children Victimized by Abuse or Neglect Receive Major Boost in Services


Children who have or are at-risk of suffering from the trauma of abuse and neglect now have additional tools and services, as a result of the Bernalillo County Behavioral Health Initiative [BHI]. Today Bernalillo County Officials announced the start of a pilot program focusing on the reduction of “Adverse Childhood Experiences” [ACE’s], which will infuse the private and non-profit service sectors with nearly $6 million over the next two years. ACE’s providers will support the community’s youth with prevention, intervention, and treatment, not covered by Medicaid.

“We know childhood trauma can have devastating results; increasing the future likelihood of incarceration, violent crime, psychological disorders, and in the horrific case of Victoria Martens, loss of life. For children, this is a critical time in their formative years for quality services to provide solutions, intervention, support, treatment, and hope for a future that is free of these heartbreaking situations,” said Commission Chairwoman Debbie O’Malley. “Today’s children are tomorrow’s leaders, parents and community members; this program can provide the support needed to stabilize and recover.”

As is the case with all the BHI programs, ACE’s was identified as a priority area lacking resources to sufficiently serve the community. The community members who make up the working groups and subcommittees recommended a million dollars per year be allocated to the project. Next, the legislation was approved by the Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Government Commission [ABCGC]. The tragic death of Victoria Martens and other local cases involving children accelerated the approval of ACE’s, expanded the scope to include children from birth to 18, and more than tripled the amount of funding to $6 million over two years.

“This is a major piece of the mental and behavioral health ‘puzzle’. Our goal with the Behavioral Health Initiative is to identify gaps in services and make sure we work with community providers to fill in those services, forming a comprehensive safety net for individuals impacted by behavioral or mental health issues,” said County Manager Julie Morgas Baca.

ACE’s broadly focuses on three categories of underserved children, afflicted by:

  • Abuse- emotional, physical, and sexual abuse
  • Neglect- emotional and physical neglect
  • Household challenges- domestic violence, household substance abuse, household mental illness, divorce or separation, or household incarceration

The following organizations were chosen to provide intervention, assessment, and complete scope of support for their young clients: PB&J Family Services, University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center ADOBE, All Faiths, Centro Savila, CLN Kids, A New Day Inc., University of New Mexico Children’s Health Center, and University of New Mexico Office for Community Health.

Bernalillo County and the City of Albuquerque are committed to improving behavioral health outcomes. Through the efforts the joint governing structure, ABCGC; ACE’s funding was approved for consideration and ultimate approval by the Bernalillo County Board of Commissioners.

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