ALBUQUERQUE — New Mexico officials have given $3 million in funding to eight private and nonprofit organizations in hopes of curbing child abuse and neglect in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County.
The funding boost announced Tuesday is in response to the murder of 10-year-old Victoria Martens last year, the Albuquerque Journal reported. The girl’s mother, the mother’s boyfriend and his cousin are accused of raping and killing her.
“The horribly disturbing case of Victoria Martens and other cases involving children played a major role in forming this legislation,” said Bernalillo County Commissioner Wayne Johnson at the news conference at PB&J Family Services, one of the organizations that received the funding.
Other organizations include the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center ADOBE, All Faiths, Centro Savila, CLN Kids, A New Day Inc., the UNM Children’s Health Center and the UNM Office for Community Health.
Under the Behavioral Health Initiative, the county almost has tripled its funding for child abuse intervention and expanded services from children age 5 and younger to children age 17 and under, Johnson said.
Contracts were given to the eight organizations under the two-year pilot program funded by a countywide tax earmarked for behavioral health services. The program’s goal is to provide more children and families with prevention and treatment services not covered under Medicaid and other insurance programs.
PB&J serves about 1,000 families that face problems such as mental illness, substance abuse, incarceration and domestic violence, sometimes across generations. PB&J will use the part of the funding to add more services geared toward pregnant women and children between age 3 and 5 and their families, said Executive Director Susannah Burke.
Officials hope the services will lead to more stable home environments for children and prevent “adverse childhood experiences” such as physical, emotional and sexual abuse.