HOUSE BILL 196
56th legislature - STATE OF NEW MEXICO - first session, 2023
Stefani Lord and Tanya Mirabal Moya
RELATING TO CHILDREN; REVISING THE PREFERRED PLACEMENT OF CHILDREN IN TEMPORARY CUSTODY.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO:
SECTION 1. Section 32A-4-8 NMSA 1978 (being Laws 1993, Chapter 77, Section 102, as amended) is amended to read:
"32A-4-8. PLACE OF TEMPORARY CUSTODY.--
A. Unless a child alleged to be neglected or abused is also alleged or adjudicated delinquent:
(1) the child shall not be held in a jail or other facility intended or used for the incarceration of adults charged with criminal offenses or for the detention of children alleged to be delinquent children; and
(2) there shall be a preference that the child be placed in the home of a relative of the child when a relative is available to provide foster care; provided that:
(a) placement with a relative is in the best interest of the child;
(b) the relative signs a sworn statement that the relative will not return the child to or allow unsupervised visits with the parent, guardian or custodian who is alleged to have committed the abuse or neglect, unless otherwise directed by the department or the court; and
(c) within three days of accepting custody of the child, the relative completes an application form for licensure to operate a foster home pursuant to the Children's Code.
B. The department shall make reasonable efforts to locate a relative of the child to provide foster care. If a relative is not available to provide foster care, [the child may be placed in:
(1) a licensed foster home or any home authorized under the law for the provision of foster care or group care or use as a protective residence;
(2) a facility operated by a licensed child welfare services agency; or
(3) a facility provided for in the Children's Shelter Care Act] the child's preferred order of placement is:
(1) fictive kin;
(2) licensed family foster care;
(3) therapeutic foster care;
(4) a group home or congregate care setting; or
(5) a residential treatment facility.
C. Absent evidence to the contrary, a court may presume that continuation of the child's placement with the child's current caregivers is in the child's best interests.
D. A foster parent or fictive kin caregiver with whom the child has resided for six months or more is a person who has a significant relationship with the child."
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