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Handbook 13: Cross Program Protocols
13-10  Safely Surrendered Baby Protocol
Cross Program Protocols
13-10  Safely Surrendered Baby Protocol
Reference Points
Overview
When Does the Law Not Apply
Surrender Sites in Santa Clara County
Requirements of the Designated Surrender Sites
Notifying the California Department of Social Services (CDSS), the California Missing Children Clearinghouse (CMCC), and the National Crime Information Center (NCIC)
Safely Surrender vs. Voluntary Relinquishment
CANC Social Worker Responsibilities
CANC Screening Social Worker's Responsibilities
IR Social Worker's Responsibilities
Adoption Social Worker's Responsibilities at the Hospital Site
Placement of a Safely Surrendered Baby
DI Social Worker's Responsibilities
Pre-dispositional Case Assignment of Safely Surrendered Baby Cases
Reclaiming the baby
DFCS Contacts
Other References


Reference Points
Effective Date: 04/04/06
Last Updated: 3/31/2015
 Legal Basis:
Popup Window All County Information Notice (ACIN) Nol 1-19-12: Reporting Safely Surrendered Babies to the California Department of Social Services
Popup Window California 's Safely Surrendered Baby Law (Senate Bill (SB) 1368)
PDF All County Letter 02-01 - Safe Arms for Newborns Law
PDF ACIN I-66-02: Reporting Requirements: Safely Surrendered Baby Law and Child Fatalities
Popup Window Health and Safety (HS) Code Section 1255.7
Popup Window Welfare and Institutions Code § 361.5 (b)(9)
 Non CWS/CMS Forms:
pdf Safe Surrender Baby Report (SOC880)
MS Word Transfer Case Summary (SCZ 409)
 CWS/CMS Forms:
bullet

Referral Management Section:

  • Screener Narrative
  • Investigation Narrative
bullet Client Management Section: Client Notebook
bullet Services Management Section: Contact Notebook


Overview  

Enacted in 2001, California’s Safely Surrendered Baby Law permits the parent(s)’ voluntary surrender of a baby within 72 hours of birth. Under this law, parent(s) can safely surrender their baby, at designated safe surrender sites, and be protected from prosecution for child abandonment. This law makes it easier for a parent who might otherwise abandon their baby in an unsafe place, to safely surrender the baby for adoption.

 

Further, the law allows the parent(s) or surrendering person up to 14 days to reclaim the baby.
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When Does the Law Not Apply  

The Safely Surrendered Baby Law does not apply to baby who is:

  • Abandoned more than 72 hours after birth.
  • Abandoned at a site other than a designated safe surrender site or public or private hospital emergency room.

 

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Safe Surrender Sites  

Santa Clara County has designated all manned local fire stations, as well as, public and private hospital emergency rooms, along with other sites, as Safe Surrender Sites for the surrender of newborns.

Santa Clara County residents can call 211 for information regarding Safe Surrender Sites in Santa Clara County. A statewide, toll-free hotline (1-877-BABYSAF) or (1-877-222-9723) provides safe surrender baby location sites throughout the State.

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Requirements of the Designated Surrender Site  

Any person on duty at a safe-surrender site shall accept physical custody of a minor child 72 hours-old or younger pursuant to Health and Safety (HS) Code Section 1255.7. If a parent or other individual having lawful custody of the child voluntarily surrenders physical custody of the child to personnel who are on duty at the safe-site, the qualified person at the safe-site:

  • Completes a medical screening examination of the newborn and provides necessary medical care for the infant.
  • Provides or makes a good faith effort to provide the parent or person surrendering the newborn a medical questionnaire [Safely Surrendered Baby- Medical Questionnaire (SOC816)] and asks the person to complete the questionnaire at the site or to mail in the completed questionnaire.
    • Completion of the questionnaire is done at the parent's convenience and is optional.
  • Places a coded, confidential ankle bracelet on the newborn.
  • Makes a good faith effort to provide the parent or person surrendering the newborn with a duplicate of the coded, confidential ankle bracelet.
  • Advises the parent that, provided there has been no abuse or neglect, the parent or surrendering party may reclaim the infant within 14 days by contacting the:
    • Hospital, if the reclaiming is made within 48 hours, or
    • Department of Family and Children's Services (DFCS) at 299-2071, in the event the child has been placed in temporary custody.
  • As soon as possible and no later than 48 hours, contacts the child welfare agency to report the safely surrendered baby situation.
    • In Santa Clara County, the hotline number to call is (408)299-2071.
  • Provides the child welfare agency social worker with all pertinent medical information and, if available, the medical questionnaire completed by the parent without any of the parents; identifying information.
    • If the completed medical questionnaire is later returned to the hospital, hospital staff forwards the questionnaire to:

Department of Family and Children's Services

Court Intervention Services Bureau Program Manager

373 W. Julian St., 2nd flr.

San Jose, CA  95110

 


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Notifying CDSS, CMCC, and the NCIC   When a county child welfare services agency takes custody of a baby surrendered under Health and Safety Code § 1255.7, the agency is required to immediately notify the California Department of Social Services (CDSS), the California Missing Children Clearinghouse (CMCC), and the National Crime Information Center (NCIC).  (Refer to IR Social Worker Responsibilities for procedures to make notifications)
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Safely Surrender vs. Voluntary Relinquishment  

Parents and some professionals may not understand the distinction between Safe Surrender and Voluntary Relinquishing a child. The chart below is an effort to clarify the differences between the two.

 

Safe Surrender Voluntary Relinquishment
The baby must be less than 72 hours old. Child can be more than 72 hours old
The baby would be placed in a fost/adoptive home chosen by DFCS. The parent is able to share his/her preference as to what kind of adoptive family he/she prefers, and, if the adoption is done through a private adoption agency,  may be able to help select the adoptive family.
The parents’ identity will be anonymous. The parents’ identity will remain confidential if relinquishment is done through DFCS, however, if through private adoption agency, the parent can waive confidentiality.
The child will not know their family or medical history unless the parent completes the medical questionnaire (SOC861). The child will know his or her family medical history and background, if the parents provide information.
The parents will not be able to exchange correspondence with the adoptive family, and there is no possibility of an “open” adoption. The parents may be able to exchange correspondence with the adoptive family, and may be able to participate in an “open” adoption, if adoption is completed through a private adoption agency.
The parent will not have to disclose information regarding the birth father. The parent will be asked to disclose information regarding the birth father.

 

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CANC Screening Social Worker's Responsibility  

Upon receiving a report of a surrendered newborn , the Child Abuse and Neglect Center (CANC)Screening social worker:

  • Clarifies with the referent whether the parent’s intention is to safely surrender the newborn (must be less than 72 hours old), or to voluntarily relinquish the newborn. Sample questions to assist in clarification:

     

     

    Safely

    Surrender

    Voluntary Relinquishment
    Is the newborn less than 72 hours old?
    X
    X
    Is the newborn/child older than 72 hours?  
    X
    Parent wants opportunity to share his/her preferences regarding what type of adoptive family?  
    X
    Parent does not want to provide their name or any identifying information and does not want to have contact with social service agency?**
    X
     

    **This can sometimes be tricky when the mother gave birth at the hospital and the hospital has her identifying information.

  •  

For more assistance with understanding Safely Surrendered vs. Voluntary Relinquishment ( Click here).

 

Note: If the referent attempts to provide you with information regarding the identity of the child’s parent or the person surrendering the child, respectfully advise them no identifying information is required and will not be documented. The only exception is if the referent indicates the parent provided the first name of the child, note this only in screener narrative.

 

 

  • Incorporates Safely Surrendered Baby protocol with CWS/CMS Emergency Response Protocol procedures by collecting the following information from the referent:
    • Child's ankle ID Code.
    • Child’s date of birth if known.
    • Date and time child was surrendered.
    • Where the child was surrendered.
    • Child's current location.
      • Use the hospital or surrender site address as the child's common address.
    • Child's medical condition.
    • Whether:
      • The person surrendering the child received an ankle bracelet with the child's confidential code.
      • The person surrendering the child completed a medical questionnaire [Safely Surrendered Baby Medical Questionnaire (SOC8610] and the date the questionnaire returned, if it was completed and returned.
      • The person surrendering the child declined to complete the questionnaire.
      • The person was given a questionnaire but never returned it; the date when the questionnaire was given.
      • The parent was advised of her/his right to reclaim the newborn
      • Someone attempted to reclaim the child, the date this occurred and whether the person who attempted to reclaim was the same person who surrendered.
  • Creates a new referral using the allegation of absent caretaker.
  • For the name of the newborn:
    • Use the child’s ankle bracelet ID number as the newborn’s last name.
    • Use Baby (Boy or Girl) as the newborn's first name.
  • For the name of the parents:
    • Use Mother or Father for the parents’ first names
    • Use “unknown” as the parents’ last names
    • Example: Mother Unknown or Father Unknown
  • Documents the newborn's identification bracelet number in CWS/CMS and the CWS/CMS Screener Narrative.
  • On the Special Projects tab in the referral:
    • Click the +  (#1 in sample below)
    • In drop down (Special Projects Name), select S-Safely Surrendered Baby. (#2 in sample below)
    • Use date of referral as start date. Selects “Safely Surrendered Baby Law” on the Special Project Page of the newborn's case, using the date of the referral as the start date. (#3 in sample below)
    • In dialogue box, use drop down to select the name of the child

 

 

  • Complete the mandatory fields (yellow) and any other fields for which information was provided, including the bracelet ID#, on Safely Surrendered Baby Information, which appears when S-Safely Surrendered Baby special projects code is selected.

     

     

  • Assigns the referral an Immediate Response (IR) priority, and follows existing protocol of IR assignment.
  • Assigns the IR social worker primary assignment in CWS/CMS.
  • If during standard business hours (8am-5pm Monday through Friday), contacts the Adoptions clerk, (408)501-6301, to advise the bureau of the safely surrendered baby referral.
    • Give the Adoption clerk the name, and cell phone number of the IR social worker assigned to the referral.
      • Give the name and address of the hospital to where the Adoption staff should respond.
    • If the referral is made after Emergency Response Bureau’s regular business hours, the After-Hours social worker contacts the After-Hours Supervisor/Coordinator to review process of responding to Safe Surrender referral, if necessary.
  • Makes a secondary assignment in CWS/CMS to Adoptions Supervisor (E55A).
  • Sends an emai notification of the safely surrendered baby referralto SafeSurrenderNotification@ssa.sccgov.org   and includes a copy of the screener narrative in the body of the email.
  •  

    The SafeSurrenderNotification@ssa.sccgov.org email distributions list includes the folllowing individuals: SSA Director (and his Executive Assistant), DFCS Director and Deputy Director, Administrative Support and Family & Permanency Bureaus Social Services Program Managers, the Placement Unit Supervisor and the Permanency Coordinator.  
See Reclaiming the Baby, if a call is received from a parent wanting to reclaim a surrendered baby.

 

 

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IR Social Worker's Responsibilities  
Response / Investigation of Referral

 

Upon receiving an IR referral regarding a surrendered newborn, the IR social worker:       

  • Responds immediately, in person, to the referral.
  • If the surrender site is a hospital and the referral was received during standard business hours (Monday through Friday- 8am to 5pm), meets the Adoption social worker at the hospital Emergency Room.
    • Adoption Social Worker will work with hospital to obtain medical records with any identifying information regarding the birth parents redacted.
  • Interviews hospital staff members*** who had contact with the parent who surrendered custody of the newborn, if available, to:
      • Inquire as to whether the person who surrendered the baby was provided a copy of the ID bracelet.
      • Inquire whether the person surrendering the child was provided with medical questionnaire [Safely Surrendered Baby Medical Questionnaire (SOC861]? (If yes, notes date.)
        • Did the person decline to complete the questionnaire?
        • Was the questionnaire completed & returned?
      • Inquire if the parent was advised of her/his right to reclaim the newborn.
      • Inquire whether anyone has attempted to reclaim the child, date this occurred and whether the person who attempted to reclaim was the same person who surrendered.
      • Note the above information in CWS/CMS documentation.

     

    ***Note: If the referent attempts to provide you with information regarding the identity of the child’s parent or the person surrendering the child, respectfully advise them no identifying information is required and will not be documented. The only exception is if the referent indicates the parent provided the first name of the child, note this only in screener narrative.

     

     

  • Obtains copies of the medical questionnaire, if completed by parent and if available.
    • If the person surrendering the baby is still at the site when the social worker arrives, the social worker checks to make sure the person has received the questionnaire and understands that completion of the form is optional and that the parent can fill out the form at his/her own convenience.
  • Makes a note of the child's bracelet ID number for inputting into CWS/CMS.
  • Places the newborn in temporary custody and, if the child is in the hospital, completes Notification of Temporary Custody for child in hospital (SCZ155a), and provides copy with red right border to hospital staff for child’s chart. 
    • Provides the Receiving, Assessment and Intake Center (RAIC) social worker with the name of the Adoptions social worker who made a joint response, if applicable.
      •  Requests RAIC social worker give the Adoption social worker secondary assignment on the referral.

Reporting / Cross-Reporting Responsibilities

 
  • Makes a cross report to police.
  • Completes the Safely Surrendered Baby Report to the California Department of Social Services (SOC880).
  • Saves the SOC880 in pdf file format.
  • Sends the SOC 880 via a SECURE e-mail to:
    • ssb@dss.ca.gov (as instructed on the form)
    • Early Intervention SSPM III
  • Calls the California Missing Children's Clearinghouse Hotline (MCCH) at 1-800-222-3463, within 24 hours of placing the child in temporary custody:
    • State that you are calling under the “Safe Surrender Law”
    • Report all known identifying information concerning the newborn,
      • Name of child, if known.
      • Age.
      • Sex.
      • Race.
      • Hair and eye color.

         

        Reminder any known personal identifying information pertaining to the parent or the individual who surrendered the infant is not to be shared.

         

         

    • Provide your name, Agency and telephone number.
    • The MCCH, which is part of the Department of Justice, will notify The National Crime Information Center (NCIC). An identification of the newborn as a missing person will be reported back to the social worker by the MCCH.

 

Documentation
  • Documents information gathered in the investigation in the Investigation Narrative on CWS/CMS.
  • Documents contacts made in the course of investigating the referral in the Contact Notebook of CWS/CMS.
  • Selects “Medical Record” of the ID Types, on the ID number page of the Newborn's Client Notebook, and enters the newborn's hospital ID bracelet number in the ID number box, if not previously entered, and other known information in the “Safely Surrendered Baby Information” box under the Safe Surrendered Baby special projects code page.(S- Safe Surrendered Baby)
  • Update AFCAR fields (Link to QRG)
  • Completes the Declaration of Reasonable Efforts Detention Report (SCZ1554) noting in Sections I and VIII, reason for intervention and removal respectively, “Safe Surrendered Newborn”.
  • Assembles a copy of the Investigative Narrative, the Declaration of Reasonable Efforts Detention Report (SCZ1554), referral documents and ER folder and puts in DI Control Clerk basket. (If Adoptions Finalization social worker responded with ER social worker, please note this information a post-it and attach to packet.

 

 

 

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Adoption Social Worker's Responsibilities at the Hospital Site  

During standard business hours (Monday through Friday from 8am-5pm), the Department of Family and Children’s Services will make every effort to assign an Adoptions Social Worker to respond with along with the Emergency Response Social Worker to provide support with document collection and pre-placement tasks.

 

The Adoptions Social Worker will:

 

  • Coordinate with IR social worker and responds to hospital Emergency Room, if referral is received during business hours (Monday through Friday between 8am and 5pm)   

OR

  • If after regular business hours, respond, in person, the next business day to the hospital.

AND

  • Obtains copies of the child’s birth/medical records, unless obtained earlier by ER social worker.  The social worker shall request that any identifying information for the parents be redacted by hospital staff.

 

  • Signs the Certificate of Finding of Unknown Child presented by hospital staff.
    • Write, “Social Worker, Social Service Agency”, beside your name.
    • List address as 373 W. Julian St., San Jose, CA 95110
  • Takes a picture of the baby for the child card.
  • Gather the newborn’s personal effects.
  • Gives the hospital his/her telephone number to contact when the baby is ready to be released.
  • Contacts:
  • RAIC staff to advise them of the safely surrendered baby and that an emergency matching meeting will be arranged to determine placements. Additionally, if known, provides the anticipated discharge date.
  • Completes a Child Card
  • Submits a copy of the Child Card to the Permanency Coordinator.

See The Matching Process for further discussion of placement.

 

 

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Placement of a Safely Surrender Baby  

Best practice is to have a Safely Surrendered baby placed directly from the hospital into a prospective adoptive placement. In efforts to streamline this process, the Permanency Coordinator or the Placement Unit Supervisor is responsible for coordination of an emergency matching to identify a placement for a Safely Surrendered Baby.

 

When the Safely Surrendered Baby is due to be released, the adoptions social worker, who is temporarily assigned as secondary,

  • Arranges for the caregivers to meet the worker at the hospital or other location to pick up the baby.
    • The Adoption social worker may have an identified concurrent home in which the child may be placed directly from the hospital, if arrangements can be made with the concurrent home caregivers.
    •  Do not have the concurrent home caregiver to pick up the newborn directly from the hospital, because confidentiality as to the caregivers' and parents’ identity may be compromised.

Note: If the baby needs to be placed prior to an emergency matching to identify the prospective adoptive placement, DFCS staff should arrange placement for the child in an ESH (Emergency Satellite Home). Staff should not share information regarding the child’s status as a safely surrendered baby or provide any information in regards to the anticipated length of placement.

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DI Social Worker's Responsibilities  

The Dependency Investigations(DI) worker:

  • Consults with the DI case assignment clerk to verify that a pre-disposition secondary case assignment is made to the adoptions finalization social worker.
  • Concludes the allegations in CWS/CMS.
  • Files a WIC § 300 petition in consultation with County Counsel.
    • The allegations are filed under subdivision (g) using the following language:

(g-1) On (date), the child, (child's name), DOB (date of birth), was placed into protective custody by social worker, (name of social worker) after physical custody of the child had been voluntarily surrendered pursuant to section 1255.7 of Health and Safety Code and the child has not been reclaimed.

  • Prepares the Dependency Initial Hearing packet.
  • Prepares and submits the pre-dispositional assignment packet.
  • Investigates circumstances of the case within the scope of the Safely Surrender law, including if anyone attempts to reclaim the child
    • If an attempt by the parent is made to reclaim the child, the investigation shifts focus to the safety of the child in the parents’ care. (Refer to section below Reclaiming the Baby).

     

    ***Note: If during the investigation of the case, anyone attempts to provide you with information regarding the identity of the child’s parent or the person surrendering the child, respectfully advise them no identifying information is required and will not be documented. No identifying information for the parent should be documented in the case file, CWS/CMS or the petition and Court Reports, unless the parents attempt to reclaim the child.

     

     

  • Prepares Jurisdictional/Dispositional report within the scope of the Safely Surrender law, if the parent does not reclaim the baby within 14 days.
    • If the parent has not come forward to reclaim the child, the Dispositional recommendation is that no family reunification services be offered under Welfare and Institutions Code § 361.5 (b)(9):

     

    “That the child has been found to be a child described in subdivision (g) of Section 300, that the parent or other person having custody of the child voluntarily surrendered physical custody of the child pursuant to Section 1255.7 of the Health and Safety Code.”

    In the case of Safely Surrendered Baby, a By-Pass staffing is not required in order to submit Dispositional recommendations for no reunification services to be offered.  

     

     

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Predispositional Case Assignment of Safely Surrendered Baby Cases  

Although Adoptions Social Workers work collaboratively with Emergency Response and Dependency Investigations Social Workers, when a Safely Surrendered Baby case is received by DFCS, pre-dispositional assignments involving safely surrendered babies are made to social workers in the Continuing Services Bureau. Please refer to OPP Chapter 12-6: Pre-Dispositional Hearing (Pre-Dispo) Case Assignments for more information.

 

The one addition to Pre-Dispositional responsibilities in Safe Surrender cases is if the parent comes forth with 14 days, the DI Social Worker is to contact the Adoptions Unit Supervisor to request an adoptions social worker meet with the parent and provides the parent with information on voluntary relinquishments and takes the relinquishment, if the parent chooses this option.

 

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Reclaiming of the Baby  

The law allows parents the ability to reclaim the child within 14 days of the surrender, if:

Reclaiming from Hospital

  • The hospital still has custody of the child and the child has not been placed into protective custody,

AND

  • There is no indication that the child has been the victim of abuse or neglect.  (Note: If the hospital suspects abuse or neglect of the newborn, they must contact the CAN Center to make a new referral, providing the parents’ identifying information.)

The voluntary surrendering of a child pursuant to Health & Safety Code Section 1255.7 (e) is not in and of itself a sufficient basis for reporting child abuse or neglect.

 

Reclaiming from Department of Family & Children’s Services

 

Child Abuse and Neglect Center

When a CANC Screening social worker receives a call from a parent wanting to reclaim a surrendered baby, the Screening social worker:

  • Documents the parent's identifying information.
  • Asks the parent for the bracelet ID number, if they have it.
  • Asks the date of birth of the newborn.
  • Asks the name and location of the hospital or fire station where the infant was surrendered.
  • Searches the CWS/CMS database to find the newborn's identity and assigned DI social worker.  
  • Contacts by email the assigned DI social worker and the secondary assigned pre-dispositional social worker and their respective supervisors to let them know of the request by the parent.   In email, screening social worker provides:
      • Name of child as listed in CWS/CMS
      • Date of birth of the newborn
      • Parents’ name and contact information.
  • Gives the parent the name, telephone number and address of the assigned social worker and the social worker's supervisor and advised the parent to contact the social worker and/or supervisor.

DI Social Worker

Upon being contacted by the Screening social worker or parent regarding a return of the newborn to the parent, the DI social worker:

  • Determines if the 14 day timeline in which the parent may reclaim the newborn applies.
  • Initiates contact with the parent.
  • Attempts to complete, within 24 hours, a face-to-face contact with the parent, a home assessment and safety assessment.
  • Verifies the identity of the parent and assesses the parent's ability to care for the infant and any other children in the parent's care.
  • If assessed as being beneficial, social worker requests a TDM (Team-Decision Making meeting) or conducts teaming meeting with parent(s) and any identified support.
  • Documents any findings in the child's Contact Notebook in CWS/CMS.
  • Consults with social work supervisor.

 

If.. and.. then..
The 300 Petition has not been filed The parent is assessed to be able and willing to care for the newborn
  • Return the child to the parent.
  • Offer Voluntary Family Maintenance, Informal Supervision services or Voluntary Family Reunification services, if appropriate or
  • Close the case, if no further services are needed or accepted.
The 300 Petition has not been filed The parent is assessed to be unable to care for the newborn
  • File the 300 Petition.
  • Proceed with Dependent Intake investigation.
The 300 Petition has been filed The parent is assessed to be able and willing to care for the newborn

Prior to Initial Hearing

  • Offer VFM, IS or Voluntary Family Reunification services, if appropriate.
  • Files an Application for Order to the Court requesting the Petition be dismissed.
  • Close the case after the Petition is dismissed, if no further services are offered.

 

 

After Initial Hearing has been held:

  • Offer VFM, IS or Voluntary Family Reunification services, if appropriate.
  • Provide the parent with contact information for DAC (Dependency Advocacy Center) Office
  • Request a Detention Re- Hearing

(No visits can be provided until Detention Re-Hearing)

  • Close the case after the Petition is dismissed, if no further services are offered.

 

The 300 Petition has been filed The parent is assessed to be unable to care for the newborn
  • Proceed with the Dependent Intake investigation.
  • Amend Petition to include allegations of abuse and/or neglect.
  • Submit the Jurisdictional/Dispositional report with the appropriate recommendation.
The 300 Petition has or has not been filed The parent is not willing to care for the child
  • Refer the parent for further information on Voluntary Relinquishment at 975-5117.

 

 

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DFCS Contacts  
  • Court Intervention Bureau Manager

    Jonathan Weinberg , SSPMI III

    Court Intervention Bureau

    Tel.: (408)501-6534

  • Family & Permanency Bureau Manger

    Tracy Bowers, SSPM II

    Tel.: (408)501-6309

     

  • DFCS Permanency Coordinator

    Elena Burn,

    Tel: (408) 501-6882

     

  • CDSS

    Marcus Cortez

    Tel: 1-916-651-8982

    marcus.cortez@dss.ca.gov


 
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Other References  
PDF Santa Clara County - Frequently Asked Questions
PDF Safe Surrender Sites
bullet OPP Chapter 1-5: Emergency Response Protocol
bullet OPP Chapter 12-6: Pre-Dispositional Hearing (Pre-Dispo) Case Assignments
bullet OPP Chapter 11-6: The Matching Process
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