Report: More intervention programs needed to slow NM child abuse rate

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SANTA FE, N.M. — New Mexico’s child abuse rate has increased in recent years as have the number of repeat victims, according to a legislative report released today.

More than 30 percent of New Mexico children that are abused are re-victimized within a nine-year time period, according to the Legislative Finance Committee report.

Specifically, the LFC report recommended that home intervention programs be expanded in order to improve child abuse rates in a cost-effective manner for the state.

“Research shows that investing in families before it is necessary to remove children is a safer, more cost-effective approach,” the report states.

Several high-profile child abuse cases have prompted state leaders to announce changes to how the state responds to such situations.

The death of 9-year-old Omaree Varela, who was allegedly kicked to death by his mother in December, has been a driving force behind the proposed changes.

Children, Youth and Families Secretary Yolanda Deines did not dispute the report’s findings during today’s hearing. However, she pointed out legislators did not approve a bill during this year’s 30-day session that would have mandated parents follow through with state-ordered counseling and treatment plans after being reported to CYFD.

Check tomorrow’s Journal for a full story on reaction to the legislative report.

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