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Governor signs bill to protect foster children

SANTA FE (AP) — Gov. Susana Martinez has signed a measure into law to allow state officials to conduct immediate criminal background checks before placing foster children in the emergency protective custody of family members, neighbors or other individuals.

The governor said Thursday the new law can help prevent children from being placed in a potentially dangerous home with someone who has a criminal history.

The state took custody of several children in 2005, and placed them with grandparents. A background check took several weeks to complete and officials found that the grandfather had criminal convictions in another state. The children were moved to other caregivers.

The law will allow the Children, Youth and Families Department to make use of a federal database for quicker checks of someone’s criminal history.