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Policy Manual


CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT HOTLINE

Criteria to Determine Report Acceptance: Special Categories

33-7-15
Safe Havens for Newborns

Utilizing the Safe Haven Act

In accordance with Public Act 00-207, “An Act Concerning Safe Havens”, a parent or lawful agent of the parent may voluntarily surrender physical custody of an infant age thirty (30) days or younger to the nursing staff of a hospital emergency room.

 The parent or agent is not required to provide the hospital with his/her name or information regarding the medical history of the parent or infant.

 In such situations when there is no abuse or neglect, the parent or agent is not criminally liable for abandonment or risk of injury to the child.

Role of DCF

Upon receipt of a Safe Haven report from a hospital, the Department of Children and Families shall 

          immediately obtain a 96-hour hold to assume the care and control of the infant 

          conduct an investigation of the situation, whether or not there is a suspicion of abuse or neglect

          take action to achieve safety and permanency for the infant.

 (See below for specific Hotline and investigation procedures).

  

The Department’s Division of Public and Community Relations shall prepare and distribute a public information brochure regarding the Safe Haven process to hospitals and other appropriate locations, such as doctors’ offices, clinics, and schools.  The brochure shall include the following information and be updated when necessary:

           an explanation of the Safe Haven process

          the legal ramifications and protections for the parent or agent

          what will happen to the infant

          how to contact DCF with questions, including the procedures for reunification

          the timelines involved in termination of parental rights and adoption

          other relevant information.

Role of the Hospital

In Safe Haven cases, the designated hospital nurse shall

           take physical custody of the infant unless the parent or agent clearly expresses an intent to return for the infant

           within twenty-four hours, notify the DCF Hotline that a Safe Haven infant has been left at the hospital

Note:  For all Safe Haven cases, within forty-eight hours of making the oral notification, the hospital must also submit DCF-136,  “Report of Suspected Child Abuse/Neglect” to DCF.  The hospital may indicate on the form that it is a Safe Haven case and is not required to disclose the name of the parent or agent, if known.

           follow the usual hospital procedures to screen and stabilize the infant

Note:  If abuse or neglect is suspected, the hospital will attempt to detain the parent or agent and call the police.

          keep the infant at the hospital until the assigned DCF Social Worker arrives to take custody of the child

           provide the parent or agent with information regarding the Safe Haven process

           prepare an affidavit for DCF describing the circumstances of receiving the infant and subsequent actions taken.  (See Attachment A, Affidavit)

 

In addition, the hospital nurse may

           request voluntary information from the parent or agent  (See below)

           provide the parent or agent with an identification bracelet to link the parent or agent to the infant.

Note:  Possession of the bracelet does not authorize the parent or agent to take custody of the infant on demand.  If parental rights have not been terminated, possession of a bracelet creates a presumption that the parent or person has standing to participate in a custody hearing for the infant and does not create a presumption of maternity, paternity or custody.

Obtaining Voluntary Information from the Parent or Agent

Although the hospital staff may ask for the name of the parent(s) or agent and information on the medical history of the infant and parents, the parent or agent is not required to provide such name(s) or information.

 If the parent or agent does provide such name(s) or information, it shall be kept confidential except that the hospital must provide DCF with all available medical history.

 The hospital nurse will

          complete forms DCF-337B, “Genetic Parent(s) Information”, and DCF-338B, “Medical Information on Genetic Parent(s)” with non-identifying information

          submit these forms to DCF for inclusion in the child’s Uniform Case Record.

 

Note:  While the information on DCF-337B and DCF-338B does not identify the parent, the hospital must disclose confidential information if ordered to do so by a Court.

DCF Hotline Procedures

Upon receipt of a Safe Haven report from a hospital, the DCF Hotline shall take the following actions:

           accept the report as physical neglect/abandonment and assign for a same day  response time

          immediately obtain a 96-hour hold and fax a copy to the hospital

           call the State Police to notify them of the Safe Haven report and determine if there are any reports of missing infants

           during regular hours, forward the Hotline report to the appropriate DCF regional office for assignment to a regional investigator

           during after-hours, assign the report to a Hotline investigator.

DCF Investigation Procedures

The assigned DCF Social Worker (regional or Hotline) shall

           investigate a Safe Haven report in accordance with the usual investigation policies and procedures for an abandoned baby case.

Exception: DCF will not involve the local police in a Safe Haven investigation unless there are indications of abuse or neglect which require police notification, as specified in Policy 33-6-18.

 The Hotline is responsible for checking with the State Police only to notify them of the Safe Haven report and to determine if there are any reports of missing infants.

           respond to the hospital within the same day

           obtain an affidavit from the nurse who took physical custody of the infant and, if necessary, from other involved hospital personnel

           obtain forms DCF-337B and DCF-338B completed by the nurse, when available

           make arrangements to place the infant in out-of-home care until a permanent home is identified

           consult with legal counsel regarding court procedures to obtain temporary custody and termination of parental rights if the parent and child will not be reunited.  (See below.)

Request for Reunification

Prior to termination of parental rights, a person claiming to be the parent or agent  may submit a request to DCF for reunification with the child.  The parent or agent should contact the Juvenile Court and apply for a court appointed lawyer if they cannot afford their own lawyer.

 The Department shall identify, investigate and contact the parent or agent to determine if such reunification is appropriate or if parental rights should be terminated. 

Any request to reunify with the infant should be made as soon as possible since the court may grant the request to terminate parental rights on the first day that the termination petition is considered.  The court may grant the request for termination if the parents do not appear and they have been provided proper notice.

Connecticut Department of Children and Families                                 Effective Date: April 2, 2001  (Revised)