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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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New Mexico State has received $1.8 million to recruit social workers

In response to growing shortages of social workers in New Mexico, the state Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD) has awarded New Mexico State University $1.8 million that includes stipends for social work students interested in careers with the state after graduation.

Eric Banagay, a senior at New Mexico State University, is participating in the Children, Youth and Families Title IV-E program, which gives a stipend to social work students who are willing to commit to jobs with the state of New Mexico prior to graduation. Banagay will work for CYFD for at least three years after he graduates in May 2002. (New Mexico State University photo by Darren Phillips)

le IV-E project awards stipends of $3,000 to $8,000 to students per year. In return, students who accept the stipends commit to 18 months of employment per year of award with CYFD after graduation.

Children, Youth and Families is the state agency responsible for child protective services and other services that protect children and adults from abuse and neglect.

New Mexico has 11 counties with a 20 percent or higher vacancy rate in CYFD offices and the vacancy rate for statewide central intake is 30 percent, said Andrew Anderson, New Mexico State's Title IV-E director.

"They are trying to recruit students who are really committed to CYFD and will go to offices in the state with high vacancies," Anderson said. "Students need to agree to go where they are needed."

Students are interviewed by CYFD office managers before being awarded stipends.

"The determining factor is really the commitment level of the students," Anderson said.

Eric Banagay, a New Mexico State senior from Clovis majoring in social work and psychology, has participated in the program for two years. He has committed to work for CYFD for three years after he graduates in May 2002.

"I think the three years is going to be good for me," Banagay said. "That's where I wanted to work. At CYFD, you know that you're doing it for the safety of the child."

Banagay said he became interested in working with children after he volunteered for a daycare for homeless children in Las Cruces. He said he learned a lot about child protective services and the processes that need to be followed.

Anderson said students participating in the program are required to take courses on child abuse and neglect and permanency planning, which would normally be elective choices.

Social work majors are also required to do field placement hours to qualify for a degree. Banagay and many others in the program do their field placements at CYFD, Anderson said.

Sally Reyes, a 1991 graduate of New Mexico State's School of Social Work, is now getting a Master of Social Work from New Mexico State through an off-campus program in Roswell. She will graduate in December and has already received her assignment with the Chaves County CYFD office in the treatment department. Through the stipend program, she has committed to three and half years with the state. The treatment department is responsible for developing a treatment plan with families to provide a safe environment for children and preserve the family, Reyes said.

"This is a great opportunity to work with families and children," she said. "I believe all children should have a stable and safe environment."

Reyes is currently employed as a social worker supervisor at the New Mexico Rehabilitation Center in Roswell. She said although she has enjoyed working with adults at the center, she is glad that she will be working with children more. Reyes said she is thrilled she will not have to pay back a lot of student loans when she graduates.

This year New Mexico State has 14 students participating in the stipend program that includes $260,000 of the Title IV-E monies, Anderson said. "We hope that number grows next year," he said. The rest of the funds are used for permanency planning training for CYFD employees and curriculum and development.