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  DFCS Online Policies & Procedures

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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 Surrender Sites
Notifying the California Department of Social Services (CDSS), the California Missing Children Clearinghouse (CMCC), and the National Crime Information Center (NCIC
CANC Social Worker Responsibilities
IR Social Worker Responsibilities at the Hospital Site
Adoption Social Worker's Responsibilities at the Hospital Site
IR Social Worker Reporting Responsibilities
DI Social Worker's Responsibilities
Pre-dispositional Case Assignment of Safely Surrendered Baby Cases
DFCS Contacts
Other References


Reference Points
Effective Date: 04/04/06
Last Updated: 10/19/12
 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  

Effective January 1, 2001 , California 's Safely Surrendered Baby Law (Senate Bill (SB) 1368) provides that no parent or other person having lawful custody of a minor child 72 hours-old or younger may be prosecuted for child neglect or abandonment, if that parent voluntarily surrenders physical custody of the child and there is no suspicion of child abuse or neglect. The newborn may be surrendered to any employee on duty at a public or private hospital emergency room in Santa Clara County.  The action is legal and confidential. The parent is not required to give a name or any other information.

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When Does the Law Not Apply  

Hospital staff and social workers follow regular child abuse reporting and investigation procedures, rather than surrendered baby protocol, when:

  • An abandoned newborn is more than 72 hours-old.
  • The newborn is abandoned at a site other than a designated public or private hospital emergency room within Santa Clara County.
  • The newborn shows signs of having been abused or neglected.
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Safe Surrender Sites  

Santa Clara County has designated public and private hospital emergency rooms as Safe Surrender Sites for the surrender of newborns.

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:

Hospital Site

  • Completes a medical screening examination of the newborn and provides necessary medical care for the infant.
  • Provides or make a good faith effort to provide the parent or person surrendering the newborn a medical questionnaire 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 299-2071.
  • Provides the child welfare agency social worker with all pertinent medical information and, if available, the medical questionnaire completed by the parent.
    • If the completed medical questionnaire is later returned to the hospital, hospital staff forwards the questionnaire to:

      Department of Family and Children's Services

      Attn. Jonathan Weinberg, SSPM

      Early Intervention and Community Services Bureau

      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).
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CANC Screening Social Worker's Responsibility  

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

  • Creates a new referral.
  • Incorporates Safely Surrendered Baby protocol with CWS/CMS Emergency Response Protocol procedures by collecting the following information:
    • Child's Name.
      • Use Baby (Boy or Girl) as the newborn's first name.
    • Child's ankle ID Code.
    • Date and time child was surrendered.
    • Where the child was surrendered.
    • Child's current location.
      • Use the hospital address as the child's common address.
    • Child's medical condition.
    • Whether:
      • There is suspicion of abuse or neglect.
      • The person surrendering the child received an ankle bracelet with the child's confidential code.
      • The person surrendering the child completed a medical questionnaire 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 person surrendering gave a name, relationship to the child, address, phone number.
        • The screener does not record the mother's name in a safe surrender case.  If the case later turns out to be abuse/neglect, a new referral can be generated.
      • The parent was advised of her/his right to reclaim the newborn?
      • The custodian attempted to reclaim the child, date this occurred and whether the person who attempted to reclaim was the same person who surrendered.

  • Documents on the CWS/CMS Screener Narrative the newborn's identification bracelet number.
  • 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.
  • Assigns the referral an Immediate Response (IR) priority.
  • Assigns the IR social worker primary assignment in CWS/CMS.
  • Contacts the Adoptions clerk, (408)501-6301, to advise the bureau of the safely surrendered baby referral.
    • Give the Adoption clerk the name, pager number 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 regular business hours, the After-Hours social worker contacts the After-Hours coordinator. 
  • Makes a secondary assignment in CWS/CMS to Adoptions Supervisor, Rhoda Cheung, E55A.
  • Notifies the Family & Permanency Bureau Social Services Program Manager by phone (408)501-6309 of the safely surrendered baby referral.

See Reclaiming of the Child by the Mother if a call is received from a parent wanting to reclaim a surrendered baby.

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IR Social Worker's Responsibilities at the Hospital Site  

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

  • Responds to the site as soon as possible.
  • Meets the Adoption social worker at the hospital Emergency Room.
    • If the parent is at the surrender site when the IR and Adoption social workers arrive, the Adoptions social worker will provide the parent with information regarding voluntary relinquishment and may arrange for the relinquishment at that time, if agreed to by the parent.

  • Interviews and takes statements from hospital staff members who had contact with the parent who surrendered custody of the newborn. Important questions to ask include:
    • Where the mother delivered the baby?
    • What were the mother's physical features?
    • Did the mother speak English or another language?
    • What was the mother's demeanor?
    • What was the baby wearing when it was surrendered?
    • What was done with the baby's personal effects?
    • Did the umbilical cord appear to have been cared for?
    • Does the baby have any birth marks or unique identifying features?
    • Did the baby appear to have been fed?
    • Was the baby well hydrated?
    • Did the mother state any preferences about placement of the baby?

  • 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 is to be filled out at the parent's own convenience.

  • Asks if the mother stated where the baby was born.
  • Obtains all birth records regarding the infant, if available.
  • Obtains all records that could identify and be used to locate the parents.
    • The mother's name is not recorded in a safe surrender case.

    The information is gathered in the event that the situation does not meet the criteria for "Safely Surrendered Baby", in which case the parents would need to be notified, should the matter proceed to juvenile dependency court.

  • Inquires as to whether the person who surrendered the baby was provided a copy of the ID bracelet.
  • Requests all medical records of the newborn since the time of his/her admission to the hospital.
  • Makes a note of the child's bracelet ID number for inputting into CWS/CMS.
  • Places the newborn in temporary custody, if a voluntary relinquishment has not been arranged between the parent and Adoption social worker.
    • Provide the Assessment Center social worker the name of the Adoptions social worker who made a joint response and inform the Assessment Center social worker that the Adoption social worker should be given secondary assignment on the referral.

  • Transports the newborn to the Assessment Center or an identified concurrent home, if the newborn is being released from the hospital at the time of the response.
    • 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.
    • It is preferable not to arrange for a concurrent home caregiver to pick up the newborn from the hospital, because confidentiality as to the caregivers' identity may be compromised.
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Adoption Social Worker's Responsibilities at the Hospital Site  

When notified of the safely surrender baby referral, the Adoption social worker:

  • Responds to the hospital address provided by the Screening social worker.
  • Meets the IR social worker at the hospital Emergency Room.
  • Participates in the investigation inquiry with the ER social worker.
  • Discusses voluntary relinquishment with the parent, if the parent is still at the hospital when the social worker arrives.
  • Signs the Certificate of Finding of Unknown Child presented by hospital staff.
    • Write, Social Worker, Social Services Agency, beside your name.
    • Give 373 W. Julian St., San Jose, CA 95110 as your address.
  • Gathers the newborn's personal effects.
  • Gives the hospital his/her telephone number to contact when the baby is ready to be released.
  • Contacts:
    • Assessment Intake Center staff to advise them that the child is not to be placed in an Emergency Satellite Home (ESH).
    • The Matching Coordinator to advise the coordinator that:
      • A matching meeting is needed for placement of the safely surrendered baby.
        • If the Matching Coordinator is not available, contact the Relative Finding Unit supervisor.
      • A Child Card is forwarded within 2 hours, or as soon as possible, after the social worker's return from the hospital.
  • Completes a Child Card upon return from the hospital.
  • Submits the Child Card to the Child Card coordinator.

See The Matching Process for further discussion of placement.

 

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IR Social Worker's Reporting Responsibilities  

As a continuum of the response requirement, the IR social worker:

  • Makes a cross report to police.
  • Notifies the Social Services Director's Office, (408)755-7700, of the safely surrendered baby referral.
  • 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)
    • CANC social work supervisor
    • CANC bureau SSPM
    • 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, and reports all known identifying information concerning the newborn, except personal identifying information pertaining to the parent or the individual who surrendered the child.
    • State that you are calling under the “Safe Surrender Law” and be prepared to give the following information regarding the child:
      • Name of child, if known.
      • Age.
      • Sex.
      • Race.
      • Hair and eye color.
      • 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.


  • Documents 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.
  • Completes a Transfer Case Summary (SCZ 409) documenting the name, worker number and phone number of the adoptions finalization social worker who responded to the surrender site with the IR social worker.
  • Submits the case file to the unit supervisor for final transfer approval and forwarding to Dependent Intake for further investigation.
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Dependent Intake Social Worker's Responsibilities  

Dependent Intake (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.
  • Closes the referral and opens a case.
  • 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), (worker no.), 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.

    • When submitting the petition to the DI clerk for typing and scheduling of the detention and jurisdictional hearings, the DI social worker advises the DI clerk that the jurisdictional hearing needs to be set at least 15 days from the date of temporary custody, because the parent has a right to reclaim the newborn within 14 days of surrendering the baby.
     
  • Prepares the Dependency Initial Hearing packet.
  • Investigates circumstances of the case in compliance with the specific guidelines of the new legislation.
  • Prepares Jurisdictional/Dispositional report in compliance with the specific guidelines of the new legislation, if the parent does not reclaim the child 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.”

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Predispositional Case Assignment of Safely Surrendered Baby Cases  

Cases involving safely surrendered babies are given a pre-dispositional secondary assignment to an Adoption social worker.  Because there is no parent to work with in surrendered baby cases, the predispositional responsibilities vary somewhat from the general protocol found in OPP Chapter 12-6: Pre-Dispositional Hearing (Pre-Dispo) Case Assignments.

DI Social Worker

  • Contacts the Adoptions unit supervisor to verify that the Adoptions social worker who accompanied the IR social worker to the surrender site remains the secondary assignment worker.

  • Prepares the pre-dispositional assignment packet, within 24 hours of the Initial Petition Hearing, that includes:

  • Returns phone call within 24 hours from the adoptions finalization social worker, when that social worker calls to advise that he/she has received the pre-dispo packet.

  • Works together with the adoptions social worker to coordinate services to the child.

  • Prepares the physical case for transfer to the adoptions social worker, after the Dispositional Hearing by:

    • Entering all contacts in CWS/CMS Contact Notebook.

    • Completing all other necessary CWS/CMS input.

    • Submitting the case for transfer within 3 working days of the Dispositional Hearing.

DI Supervisor

  • Reviews the pre-dispositional packet for completeness.

  • Signs the goldenrod Pre-Dispo Assignment Sheet.

  • Gives the pre-dispo packet to the DI control clerk (DICC) for forwarding to the secondary worker.

  • Reviews the Case Transfer summary for completeness.

  • Completes case transfer input in CWS/CMS.

  • Gives case to DICC.

  • Works with the service bureau supervisor to attempt to resolve any concerns.

    • Resolution of any concerns is expected to occur within 30 days after the adoptions social worker receives the case.

DI Control Clerk (DICC)

  • Assigns a secondary status to the adoptions social worker on CWS/CMS.

  • E-mails the case assignment to the service bureau supervisor and the DI supervisor with a cc to the service bureau program managers.

  • Makes a copy of the pre-dispo packet.

  • Returns the original packet to the DI social worker.

  • Sends the copy of the packet to the adoptions social worker.

  • Prepares the case for transfer, after the dispositional hearing.

  • Sends the physical case to the adoptions social worker via pony.

Adoptions Supervisor

  • Consults with the secondary social worker on the case assignment.

  • Works with the DI supervisor to attempt to resolve any concerns.

    • Resolution of any concerns is expected to occur within 30 days after the SB social worker receives the case.

Adoptions Social Worker

  • Contacts the DI social worker within 24 hours of receiving the pre-dispo packet.

    • If unable to talk to the DI worker, the adoptions social worker leaves a message.  

  • Contacts the Assessment Center, to report any change in the child's ESH placement.

  • If the parent comes forth, 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 Child by the Mother  

Hospital

The law allows the mother to reclaim the child from the hospital, within 14 days of surrender, if:

  • The hospital still has custody of the child.
  • There is no indication that the child has been the victim of abuse or neglect.

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.

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 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 the assigned DI social worker and the secondary assigned adoptions social worker to let them know of the request by the parent.  
  • 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 mother 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.
  • Documents any findings in the child's Contact Notebook in CWS/CMS.
  • Consults with social work supervisor, if necessary.

 

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 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

  • Dismiss the 300 Petition at the next Court Hearing
  • Arrange for frequent visitation between the parent and child, pending the hearing.
  • Offer VFM, IS or Voluntary Family Reunification services, if appropriate.
  • 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.
  • Submit the Jurisdictional/Dispositional report with Recommendation 040.

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  
  • Jonathan Weinberg , SSPMI III

Early Intervention Bureau

Tel.: (408)501-6534

  • Tracy Bowers, SSPM II

Family & Permanency Bureau

Tel.: (408)501-6309

  • DFCS Matching Coordinator
    • Elena Burn, (408) 501-6882
  • DFCS Child Card Coordinator
    • Elena Burn, (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
bullet Recommendation 040
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