Making and Screening Reports of Child Abuse and Neglect - New Mexico

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Individual Responsibility to Report

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 32A-4-3

A mandated reporter who knows or has reasonable suspicion that a child is abused or neglected shall report the matter immediately.

Content of Reports

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 32A-4-3(B)

The written report shall contain the following:

  • The names and addresses of the child and the child's parents, guardian, or custodian
  • The child's age
  • The nature and extent of the child's injuries, including any evidence of previous injuries
  • Any other information that the reporter believes might be helpful in establishing the cause of the injuries and the identity of the person responsible for the injuries

The written report shall be submitted upon a standardized form agreed to by the law enforcement agency and the department.

Reporting Suspicious Deaths

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Reporting Substance-Exposed Infants

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 32A-4-3(G)-(I)

A finding that a pregnant woman is using or abusing drugs based on an interview, self-report, clinical observation, or routine toxicology screen shall not alone form a sufficient basis to report child abuse or neglect to the department. Staff of a hospital or freestanding birthing center shall not make a report based solely on that finding and shall make a notification. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to prevent a person from reporting to the department a reasonable suspicion that a child is an abused or neglected child based on other criteria.

Staff of a hospital or freestanding birthing center shall do the following:

  • Complete a written plan of care for a substance-exposed newborn as provided for by department rule and the Children's Code
  • Provide notification to the department

Notification by a health-care provider pursuant to this paragraph shall not be construed as a report of child abuse or neglect. As used in this section, 'notification' means informing the department that a substance-exposed newborn was born and providing a copy of the plan of care that was created for the child. Notification shall comply with Federal guidelines and shall not constitute a report of child abuse or neglect.

Agency Receiving the Reports

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 32A-4-3; Admin. Code Tit. 8, §§ 8.10.2.7; 8.10.2.10

Reports shall be made to the following:

  • A local law enforcement agency
  • The Children, Youth and Families Department
  • The Tribal law enforcement or social services agency for an Indian child residing in Indian country

A law enforcement agency receiving the report shall immediately transmit to the department the facts of the report by telephone and a written report within 48 hours. The department shall immediately transmit to a local law enforcement agency the facts of the report by telephone and a written report within 48 hours.

In regulation: The Protective Services Division (PSD), of the Children, Youth and Families Department, is the State's designated child welfare agency. The Statewide Central Intake is the unit within PSD whose responsibilities may include, but are not limited to, receiving and screening reports of alleged child abuse or neglect and prioritizing and assigning accepted reports to the appropriate county office for investigation.

PSD intake workers shall be available to receive reports of suspected child abuse or neglect 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including reports involving suspected abuse or neglect of children in placement.

Initial Screening Decisions

Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 8, §§ 8.10.2.8; 8.10.2.13

The purpose of child protective services intake is to do the following:

  • Receive reports of alleged child abuse or neglect
  • Determine if the situation reported may constitute abuse or neglect as defined by law
  • Determine if an investigation by PSD and a referral to another agency is warranted
  • Receive reports of incidents involving children in placements and determine if such reports warrant an investigation

The intake workers shall prioritize accepted reports as follows:

  • Emergency report (E): A report alleging a danger indicator involving a vulnerable child, including, but not limited to, an abandoned infant; any physical injury to an infant; a potentially life-threatening situation; recent sexual abuse; a law enforcement request for immediate response; and recent serious trauma, such as a head injury, burns, or broken bones. An emergency requires that an investigation be initiated within 3 hours.
  • Priority 1 report (P1): A report alleging physical injury involving a vulnerable child who is in a safe environment at the time of the report, or a report alleging a danger indicator involving a vulnerable child but where the alleged perpetrator will not have access to the child for the next 24 hours. A P1 report requires that an investigation be initiated within 24 hours.
  • Priority 2 report (P2): A report alleging an impending safety threat involving a vulnerable child with no immediate concern for the child's safety. This may include, but is not limited to, alleged physical abuse with no indication of injury or alleged abuse or neglect when the alleged perpetrator no longer has access to the child or a protective parent or guardian has already intervened. A P2 report requires that an investigation be initiated within 5 calendar days.

Agency Conducting the Assessment/Investigation

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 32A-4-3; 32A-4-4; Admin. Code Tit. 8, §§ 8.10.3.8; 8.10.3.15

The recipient of a report shall take immediate steps to ensure prompt investigation of the report and take steps to protect the health or welfare of the alleged child victim as well as any other child under the same care who may be in danger of abuse or neglect. A local law enforcement officer trained in the investigation of child abuse and neglect is responsible for investigating reports of alleged child abuse or neglect at schools, daycare facilities, or child care facilities. Reports alleging neglect or abuse shall be referred to the department, which shall conduct an investigation to determine the best interests of the child with regard to any action to be taken. If a report alleging neglect or abuse meets the criteria established pursuant to § 32A-4-4.1, the department may assign the case to the multilevel response system.

In regulation: PSD shall conduct investigations of reports of child abuse or neglect for children in the custody of their parents, guardians, or custodians and for children in PSD custody. Reports of child abuse or neglect in schools, facilities, and child care homes or centers shall be investigated by a local law enforcement agency.

PSD shall investigate allegations of child abuse or neglect involving Indian children who reside off the reservation or pueblo. PSD may assist in the investigation of allegations of child abuse or neglect involving children who reside on the reservation or pueblo if requested by the Indian Tribal government.

PSD shall make efforts to determine if the child who is subject of an investigation is an Indian child. PSD shall notify the appropriate Tribal authority of any investigations involving Indian children.

Assessment/Investigation Procedures

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 32A-4-4.1

The department shall establish a multilevel response system (MRS) to evaluate and provide services to a child or the family, relatives, caregivers, or guardians of a child with respect to whom a report alleging neglect or abuse has been made. The MRS may include an alternative to investigation upon completion of an evaluation made at intake by the department in which the results indicate that there is no immediate concern for the child's safety. An investigation shall be conducted for any of the following:

  • An allegation of sexual abuse of a child or serious or imminent harm to a child
  • A child fatality
  • A report requiring law enforcement involvement, a specialized assessment, or a traditional investigation

The department may move a case from a MRS and conduct an investigation if imminent danger of serious harm to the child becomes evident. The department may reassign a case from investigation to the MRS at the discretion of the department.

For each family that receives services under the MRS, the department shall conduct a family assessment. Based on the results of the assessment, the department may offer or provide referrals for counseling, training, or other services aimed at addressing the underlying causative factors jeopardizing the safety or well-being of the child. The family may choose to accept or decline any services offered under a multilevel response, however, if the family declines services, the department may proceed with an investigation.

A 'family assessment' is a comprehensive, evidence-based tool used to determine the needs of a child and the child's family at the time a report is received, including the following:

  • Imminent danger to a child's well-being
  • The likelihood of the child becoming an abused or neglected child
  • The strengths and needs of the child's family with respect to providing for the health and safety of the child

Timeframes for Completing Investigations

Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 8, § 8.10.3.17

The caseworker shall complete the investigation within 45 days of accepting the report for investigation unless an extension is approved by the supervisor. Extensions are not to exceed an additional 30 days after the original 45 days have passed.

Classification of Reports

Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 8, § 8.10.3.17

The caseworker shall complete the investigation and decide whether the report's allegations of abuse or neglect are substantiated or unsubstantiated.

In a substantiated report, there is an allegation of child abuse or neglect in which a parent, guardian, resource family, preadoptive parent, or treatment foster care parent has been identified as the perpetrator or as failing to protect the child, and credible evidence exists to support the investigation worker's conclusion that the child has been abused or neglected, as defined in the Children's Code. Credible evidence upon which to base a finding of substantiation may include, but is not limited to:

  • A parent or guardian's admission
  • Physical evidence
  • Collateral or witness statements and observations
  • A child's disclosure
  • The investigation worker's observation

In an unsubstantiated report, there is an allegation of child abuse or neglect in which the information collected during the investigation does not support a finding that the child was abused or neglected.