Despite those widespread problems, CYFD has routinely renewed the license of La Familia-Namaste and other troubled companies.

In the past five years, only one company has had its license revoked by the agency. Familyworks Inc., a treatment foster care operation run by the for-profit residential youth treatment center Desert Hills in Albuquerque, was shut down by CYFD in August following revelations of ongoing sexual assault in one of Familyworks’ foster homes. Prior to the revelations, CYFD renewed the company’s license despite finding nearly 300 violations over a seven-year period.

Treatment foster care companies have been facing numerous problems internally as well, including lower reimbursement rates from Medicaid and private insurance and a shortage of qualified psychiatrists and nurse practitioners, according to George Davis, former director of psychiatry for CYFD.

“This is nearly an impossible environment to survive,” Davis said in an email. “La Familia-Namaste was probably the best of them, and there are not enough left to refer all the patients.”

La Familia-Namaste will be sending its current foster care clients to High Desert Family Services, a for-profit business based in Albuquerque. High Desert was formerly the New Mexico chapter of the MENTOR Network, a national for-profit chain that has been under scrutiny from Congress following repeated problems with safety and oversight, often resulting in child abuse.

Between 2015 and 2017, CYFD auditors found 23 safety violations in High Desert’s treatment foster care operations, citing the agency for failing to properly check for reports of abuse and neglect by foster families.

Representatives from High Desert also failed to respond to numerous requests for comment.

Ed Williams

Ed Williams, a Searchlight investigative reporter, won the 2019 News Leader Association's Frank A. Blethen Award in local accountability reporting for his stories about abuses in the foster...