State lawmakers fail to clarify child abuse law

Posted at: 02/21/2014 3:43 PM
By: Susan Montoya Bryan, The Associated Press

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - The state's embattled child welfare agency says it's concerned about the Legislature's failure this year to clarify that reporting suspected child abuse and neglect is mandatory for all New Mexicans.

Children, Youth and Families Department spokesman Henry Varela says the lack of a "crystal clear" law puts children at risk.

Despite a number of recent cases highlighting problems with the state's overwhelmed child welfare system, several measures stalled during the legislative session that ended Thursday.

Some bills would have addressed a recent Court of Appeals ruling that narrowed the list of people who have an obligation to report suspected abuse and neglect.

House Minority Whip Nate Gentry says including everyone on that list is what lawmakers originally intended.

The Supreme Court has agreed to review the lower court ruling, but it's not clear when that might happen.

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