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Children in state custody can visit in-person with parents/guardians

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Cutoff from most direct-contact family visits for the last two months because of COVID-19 safety concerns, children in state custody will be able to meet once again with their biological parents or guardians.

Under new guidelines issued Thursday by the New Mexico Supreme Court, in-person visits can resume in areas that are presumed safe, which according to the Supreme Court’s order is “counties where the COVID-19 transmission rate is 1.15 or less,” and where such visits can be done in a safe manner, following state Department of Health protocols for minimizing risk of infection.

“The court’s order strikes an appropriate balance in protecting the health of children in state custody and the interests of parents in maintaining a family relationship,” Chief Justice Judith K. Nakamura wrote.

Where COVID-19 transmission rates exceed 1.15, affected parties can make arguments to a district court to show how in-person visits can safely resume. Until a district court rules on those arguments, the state Children, Youth and Families Department is to continue providing family visits through videoconferencing and teleconferencing.

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