NM House Passes 'Omaree's Law'

Feb 19, 2014

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The House has passed legislation that would allow New Mexico's child welfare agency to immediately take custody of children when there are certain signs of physical abuse.

The measure passed late Tuesday on a 52-11 vote and now goes to the Senate for consideration.

It's dubbed "Omaree's Law" for the 9-year-old Albuquerque boy allegedly kicked to death by his mother in December.

Police had contact with Omaree Varela and his family at least three times in the year leading up to his death. The reports were investigated but the Children, Youth and Families Department says it had no open cases at the time of the boy's death.

If the bill's adopted, legislative analysts estimate CYFD would need five times the resources it has now, including an additional 4,000 full-time employees.