HOUSE BILL 337
56th legislature - STATE OF NEW MEXICO - first session, 2023
RELATING TO THE EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION AND CARE DEPARTMENT; PROVIDING DEFINITIONS; EXPANDING DEPARTMENT DUTIES ON CONDUCTING BACKGROUND CHECKS.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO:
SECTION 1. Section 9-29-2 NMSA 1978 (being Laws 2019, Chapter 48, Section 2) is amended to read:
"9-29-2. DEFINITIONS.--As used in the Early Childhood Education and Care Department Act:
A. "child" means a person from birth to age five or, where the context otherwise provides, to age eight or thirteen;
B. "child care facility licensing" or "licensure" means the process the department follows to license the following types of child care programs: child care centers, group child care homes, family child care homes and out-of-school time programs;
C. "child care home program" means the program developed by the department to license or register homes or residences to provide child care services to children, including those defined in Section 32A-23C-2 NMSA 1978;
[B.] D. "department" means the early childhood education and care department; [and]
E. "department-contracted providers" means individuals or entities that enter into contracts with the department to provide child care services, federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Part C, early intervention services, home visiting services or pre-kindergarten services or those under contract with the department that have access to child and family personal and confidential information;
F. "registered home program" or "registration" means the program for an independent primary caregiver to register the independent primary caregiver's home or residence with the department to participate in the child and adult care food program or to participate in the child care assistance programs; and
[C.] G. "secretary" means the secretary of early childhood education and care."
SECTION 2. Section 9-29-8.1 NMSA 1978 (being Laws 2022, Chapter 30, Section 4) is amended to read:
"9-29-8.1. CRIMINAL HISTORY INVESTIGATIONS--PROCEDURES--CONFIDENTIALITY--VIOLATION--PENALTY.--
A. To investigate the suitability of an applicant for licensure or registration as a child care facility or child care home programs or for employment or volunteering at a licensed child care facility or registered child care home program, including any facility or program that has primary custody of infants, toddlers and children for twenty hours or more per week, or staff members and volunteers of department-contracted providers, the department shall have access to criminal history records information furnished by the department of public safety and the federal bureau of investigation, subject to any restrictions imposed by federal law.
B. An applicant for a license or registration or for employment or volunteering shall undergo a state and national criminal history records check, and the applicant shall submit an electronic set of fingerprints to the department of public safety for that purpose. The department of public safety shall conduct a check of state criminal history records and forward the fingerprints to the federal bureau of investigation for a national criminal history records check to determine the existence and content of records of convictions and arrests in this state or other law enforcement jurisdictions and to generate a criminal history records check in accordance with rules of the department of public safety and regulations of the federal bureau of investigation. The department of public safety shall review the information obtained from the criminal history records check and shall compile and provide that information to the early childhood education and care department. The early childhood education and care department shall use the information to investigate and determine whether an applicant is qualified to hold a license or an employment or volunteer position. The department shall promulgate rules for the investigation and determination of qualifications.
C. Criminal history information obtained by the department is confidential and shall be used only for the purpose of determining the suitability for licensure, employment or volunteer service and shall not be disclosed to anyone other than public employees directly involved in the decision affecting the applicant.
D. A person who releases or discloses criminal history records or information contained in those records in violation of the provisions of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be sentenced in accordance with the provisions of Section 31-19-1 NMSA 1978."
SECTION 3. EFFECTIVE DATE.--The effective date of the provisions of this act is July 1, 2023.
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