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4270 Determining Abandonment in CPS Reports

SWI Policy and Procedures August 2015

Abandonment is characterized as:

  •  a child being left in a situation where the child would be exposed to a substantial risk of physical or mental harm without arranging for necessary care for the child; and

  •  a parent, guardian, or managing or possessory conservator of the child demonstrating an intent to not return.

Texas Family Code §261.001(4)(A)

Parents have the right to place their children with alternate caretakers when the placement does not present obvious safety issues that could result in harm to the child. These situations do not constitute abandonment.

4271 Alleged Perpetrators of Abandonment in CPS Reports

SWI Policy and Procedures August 2015

Only a parent, guardian, or managing or possessory conservator of the child may be given the role of alleged perpetrator (AP) for an allegation of abandonment (ABAN).

Temporary caregivers cannot be given the role of AP for abandonment, but it is possible that they may be given the role of an AP with an allegation other than ABAN, such as neglectful supervision (NSUP) or refusal to assume parental responsibility (RAPR).

4272 Baby Moses Reports

SWI Policy and Procedures June 2014

The purpose of the Baby Moses law is to encourage a parent who would otherwise abandon a baby in an unsafe situation to deliver the baby to a designated emergency infant care (DEIC) provider. The law protects a parent from criminal prosecution if the child is unharmed and brought to a DEIC provider.

4272.1 Designated Emergency Infant Care (DEIC) Providers

SWI Policy and Procedures August 2015

According to the Baby Moses statutes, the following entities are designated emergency infant care (DEIC) providers:

  •  an emergency medical services provider;

  •  a hospital;

  •  a freestanding emergency medical facility licensed under Chapter 254, Health and Safety Code, or

  •  a child-placing agency licensed by DFPS that:

  •  agrees to act as a DEIC provider, and

  •  has a licensed registered nurse or licensed emergency services provider on staff.

Any entity not on this list (including a DFPS office or a police station) is not considered a DEIC provider.

4272.2 Criteria for a Baby Moses Report
4272.21 Infant Is Brought to a DEIC Provider

SWI Policy and Procedures June 2014

A situation meets the criteria for a Baby Moses report if the infant:

  •   is known to be or appears to be 60 days old or younger;

  •   has not been harmed;

  •   is voluntarily delivered to a DEIC provider; and

  •   is delivered to a DEIC provider by a person (presumed to be a parent) who does not express intent to return for the infant.

If the infant appears to be unharmed, DEIC providers are under no legal obligation to gather information from or about the person who is leaving the child. The DEIC provider may provide the person with a form for voluntary disclosure of the child’s medical facts and history.

4272.22 Infant is Born at a Medical Facility But Mother Is Unwilling to Parent

SWI Policy and Procedures June 2014

If a woman is admitted to a medical facility, gives birth, and leaves the medical facility without the baby, the case is considered a Baby Moses case if:

  •   the case meets the criteria listed above;

  •   the mother indicates in some manner that she is unwilling to parent the baby (such as by leaving a note or telling hospital staff). The mother must have indicated (through her actions or words) her unwillingness to parent the infant. Refusing to see or to hold the baby may be an indicator that the mother does not want the child but this information by itself does not qualify the intake as a Baby Moses case and

  •   there is no presumed father (that is, the mother indicates that the father “was a one-night stand, name unknown;” or the mother denies knowing who the father is). The hospital generally asks the mother about the father’s identity. If mother is married, or someone has completed the paternity registry, then this person is the presumed father. If there is any information that there is a presumed father, even if the information is limited (for instance, the father is “Bob” who works at the local Whataburger), then the intake does not qualify as a Baby Moses case.

4272.3 Questions to Ask Regarding Baby Moses Reports

SWI Policy and Procedures June 2014

The following are sample questions that can be used when gathering information from a reporter.

  •   Were there any signs of abuse or neglect? Generally describe the condition of the child at the time the child was left with the designated emergency infant care (DEIC) provider.

  •   How old is the child estimated to be? Who made the estimate?

  •   Did the parent who left the child provide any identifying or medical information?

  •   Did the DEIC provider offer the parent a form for voluntary disclosure of the child’s medical facts and history?

  •   Were there any unusual circumstances in the case?

4272.4 SWI Procedures for Baby Moses Intakes

SWI Policy and Procedures June 2014

The intake specialist:

  •   obtains and documents details about how and when the infant was delivered to the DEIC provider.

  •   obtains and documents details about the infant’s age (or estimated age) and physical condition.

  •   obtains and documents any available information about the individual who left the baby and any written or verbal information the person provided. Ask the reporter if the person who left the baby completed a form voluntarily disclosing the child’s medical facts and history, but do not instruct the reporter to have the person fill out the form and do not instruct the reporter to attempt to gather any information from the person.

  •   creates, on the Person List, a person to represent the parent, but leaves the name fields blank. IMPACT will automatically assign an Unknown # for each unnamed person entered on the Person List. Parents’ names, if known, are not documented on the Person List. This is required to protect confidentiality and prevent the parent from being related to other investigations in IMPACT. If parents’ names are known, this information can be included in the Narrative portion of the intake.

  •   selects the computer generated Unknown # as the case name on the Intake Actions Page.

  •   assesses the intake as a P-1 with the allegation of ABAN; and processes the intake following normal SWI procedures.

CPS does not investigate the case as a typical ABAN case. If Baby Moses criteria are found to have been met, CPS makes no attempt to identify or locate the parents. CPS does not conduct a search for possible relatives, since that would violate the confidentiality protection provided to the parents under this law. CPS enters a disposition of Ruled Out for these cases.

See:

The Child Protective Services Handbook, 2351 Baby Moses

Texas Family Code §262.301

4272.5 Situations That Do Not Meet Baby Moses Intake Criteria

SWI Policy and Procedures June 2014

If the infant:

  •   is known to be or appears to be 60 days old or older;

  •   has been harmed; or

  •   is not abandoned at a DEIC provider location.

If an infant is abandoned at a DEIC provider in a manner that causes harm to the infant or exposes the infant to a risk of harm, the case does not qualify as a Baby Moses case. For example, if the infant is left in a remote location in or near a DEIC, where no one is likely to find him, or left where he is exposed to severe temperatures or similar dangers, the case is not appropriate for handling as a Baby Moses case.

If the infant tested positive for drugs when the infant was born, the infant is presumed to have been exposed to a risk of harm and the case is not considered a Baby Moses case.

If the child is harmed, the case must not be worked as a Baby Moses case. In that circumstance, the intake specialist determines the appropriate allegation and processes the intake according to normal procedure.

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