IV. C-3. Procedural Guidelines to Assist Safe Haven Providers
Safe Haven Baby
The Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Child and Family Services (OCFS) is required by statute to establish guidelines which will inform Safe Haven Providers of procedures to follow when an infant is relinquished into their care. A Safe Haven Provider is by definition of Maine statute a law enforcement officer; staff at a medical emergency room; a medical services provider; or a staff person at a hospital. When a person voluntarily delivers a child less than 31 days old to a safe haven provider and expresses no intent to return for the child, there is legislation enacted into Maine law (2001) which allows this population of safe haven providers to accept the child and requires the provider to follow guidelines established by the Department of Health and Human Services.
The purpose of these guidelines is to also outline for Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Child and Family Services staff the protocol to follow when a Safe Haven Provider reports that a child has been delivered into his/her/entity’s care.
Title 22: Health and Welfare, Chapter 1071: Child and Family Services and Child Protection Act, Subchapter 2: Reporting of Abuse and Neglect, § 4018
A Safe Haven Provider is one of the following:
(1) A law enforcement officer
(2) Staff at medical emergency room
(3) A medical services provider or
(4) A hospital staff member at a hospital.
A medical services provider as defined by Title 22,§4018 means: An individual certified , registered , or licensed in the healing arts, including but not limited to, a physician, nurse, podiatrist, optometrist, chiropractor, physical therapist, dentist, psychologist, physician’s assistant or emergency medical services person.
The Department means: The Office of Child and Family Services
PROCEDURAL GUIDELINES FOR SAFE HAVEN PROVIDERS AND DHHS STAFF:
1. When a person delivers a baby who appears to be less than 31 days old to one of the category of persons defined as safe haven providers, the Safe Haven Provider may request information from the person which will be helpful to the welfare of the child. If however the person delivering the baby to the Safe Haven Provider appears to be emotionally distressed by or resistant to the Safe Haven Provider’s requests for information, and the Safe Haven Provider is unsuccessful in reassuring the person that information provided will be treated confidentially, then the Safe Haven Provider will not further encourage the person to provide this information. The Safe Haven Provider will reassure the person that the baby will be safe and will thank the person for bringing the infant to a safe place. The Safe Haven Provider will make no attempt to detain the person relinquishing the baby.
2. The Safe Haven Provider will promptly contact the Department of Health and Human Services Intake unit to inform of the delivery of the baby into his/her care. The provider will share with the Department the information, other than personally identifiable information, which was provided by the person delivering the baby into the care of the safe haven provider. The Department of Health and Human Services Intake worker will immediately contact the intake supervisor; the intake supervisor will immediately review the report and the intake supervisor will immediately notify the appropriate district office supervisor to inform of the referral. The receiving district office supervisor will assign the referral for immediate assessment. The assigned assessment caseworker will meet with the Safe Haven Provider. If the report is made to the Department after regular business hours or on a week-end, the Intake unit will immediately contact the on-call worker in the district in which the baby was placed with the safe haven provider. The on-call worker, after consultation with the on-call supervisor, will immediately respond to this report by going to meet with the safe haven provider
3. The Safe Haven Provider will inform the person delivering the baby that information shared will be protected under Title 22 §4018 and will gather all information helpful to the welfare of the child. This may include:
•Date of birth of the baby;
•Circumstances related to pregnancy and /or delivery;
•In compliance with Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, any known information about Native American heritage;
•Any known medical and/or genetic information relating to baby, parents, or extended family;
•Any history of substance use by either parent.
The person(s) gathering this confidential medical and social history information regarding the child may share it with the Department of Health and Human Services, upon request, but may not disclose information to others except to the extent necessary to provide temporary care of the child until the child is transferred to the care of the Department of Health and Human Services, or unless court-ordered to provide the information. Before any personally identifiable information supplied by the person delivering the baby may be requested from the Safe Haven Provider, the Department will need to obtain a court order allowing this information to be released. If the father is known to the Safe Haven Provider and/or the Department, the caseworker will immediately notify their AAG for further instructions.
A person or entity who accepts a child under Title 22 §4018 is not subject to civil, criminal or administrative liability for accepting the child or providing temporary custody of the child in the good faith belief that the action is required or authorized by this section.
4. The caseworker will contact the supervisor to make a Preliminary Safety Decision. Following consultation with the supervisor, the caseworker may need to proceed with immediately seeking a Preliminary Protection Order. In the Petition for Child Protection Order, the Department may refer the baby as Safe Haven Baby (in the body of the petition, but shall not be named Safe Haven, Haven, Doe, Unknown), and may identify the parents as Safe Haven Mother and Safe Haven Father. The Affidavit in Support of Preliminary Protection Order will include the Petitioner’s statement of belief that the infant is in immediate risk of serious harm to his/her health and welfare, as evidenced by the abandonment of the child or absence of any person responsible for the child which creates a threat of serious harm. After the Preliminary Protection Order is signed, the Department will provide a copy of the Order to the hospital and will authorize any necessary medical care of the infant.
5. If the baby was not given a name by the parent, the Department will need to provide a name for the baby’s birth certificate. It is the OCFS Director who will be responsible for naming the baby. When naming the baby, the OCFS Director will not use the name Safe Haven, Haven, Doe, Unknown, nor shall the child’s last name be the same as the resource family the child is placed in. Although Title 22 Health and Welfare, Subtitle 2: Health Part 6: Births, Marriages and Deaths, Chapter 703: Birth Records is in regards to foundlings the same dissemination of information will be made in regards to safe haven babies, the Department shall immediately report to the Office of Data, Research and Vital Statistics in writing:
•Date and place of finding (the date and place of finding or assumption of custody);
•Sex, color, age (based upon observation and approximate age of child);
•Name and address of Safe Haven Provider (the person or institution with whom the child has been placed for care);
•Name (name given to the child by the Safe Haven Parent or Department).
6. At any time within the first 90 days after the date of filing the birth certificate information, the first and middle name of the infant may be changed without seeking a legal name change.
7. Neither the Safe Haven Provider nor the Entity for which the Provider is employed may attempt further unsolicited contact with the person who relinquished the baby, for the purpose of eliciting more information from that person.
8. Neither the Department nor the Safe Haven Provider will facilitate contact between the Safe Haven Parent and any potential foster parents, in an effort to maintain the anonymity of the Safe Haven Parent.
9. The Department will publish notifications about hearings relating to this child in newspapers which serve the area in which the child was born and/or the area in which the child was relinquished into the care of the Safe Haven Provider. The published notification will identify the infant who is the subject of the hearings as Safe Haven Baby.
10. The Department will follow the concurrent planning policy and will make a diligent effort to place the infant with a Resource Family who, if the parent comes forward and expresses intent to reunify with the infant, will be willing to work closely with the birth parent on reunification efforts. The resource family should also be willing to provide a permanent, legal home to the child, if parental rights are terminated by the Court in the future.
11. If the infant’s parent does not appear for the Summary Preliminary Hearing or for the Hearing on the Jeopardy Petition, the Department will petition for termination of parental rights in the quickest possible time frame.
Safe Haven Baby Fact Sheet
What is Maine’s Safe Haven Legislation?
Maine Law allows a Safe Haven Provider to accept into his or her temporary care a child less than 31 days of age when the person voluntarily delivering the infant to the Safe Haven Provider does not express intent to return for the child. Statute defines a Safe Haven Provider as one of the following: a law enforcement officer, a staff person at a medical emergency room, a medical services provider, or a hospital staff member. A medical services provider is defined as an individual certified, registered, licensed in the healing arts, including but not limited to, a physician, nurse, podiatrist, optometrist, chiropractor, physical therapist, dentist, psychologist, physician’s assistant or emergency medical services person.
I am employed in a position that is one of those defined as Safe Haven Providers. What do I do if a person delivers an infant into my care?
You accept the child into your care. You are protected from civil, criminal, or administrative liability for accepting the child or for providing temporary custody of the child in the good faith belief that the action is required by law.
You promptly notify the Department of Health and Human Services of the delivery of the child into your care.
What does the law allow me to ask of the person relinquishing the care of the child?
You may ask the person to share information which will be helpful to the well-being of the child now and in the future. This information may include:
•Date of birth of the baby;
•Circumstances related to pregnancy and /or delivery;
•In compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, any known information about Native American heritage of the parents or infant;
•Any known medical and/or genetic information relating to the baby, parents or extended family;
•Any history of use of substances by either parent;
While it will be extremely helpful to obtain this information, you must not attempt to detain the person relinquishing the baby if s/he is unwilling to answer questions.
Thank the person for delivering the baby to a safe place, and please reassure her/him that there is a protocol which will be followed that will ensure the safety and well-being of the baby. Also reassure the person that the information which was shared with you is confidential, and you will only share information to the extent that it is necessary for someone to meet the needs of the baby.
Although the person delivering the baby to your care may have provided you with personally identifiable information, you may not contact the person in the future, for the purpose of seeking additional information. The person’s identity and privacy must be protected and respected.
What information shared by the person delivering the baby to me am I allowed to disclose?
The information shared with you is confidential and may not be disclosed to anyone with the exception of sharing information to the extent necessary to provide temporary care to the child, until the child is transferred to the care of the Department of Health and Human Services and except as otherwise provided by court order. All health care or other information obtained by you in providing temporary care of the child may also be provided to the Department upon request. However, the Department will not be able to obtain personally identifiable information shared with you without first obtaining a court order that requires you to provide this information to the Department.
Naming of the child:
If the child is not given a name by the parent then the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Child and Family Services Director shall name the baby. The Director will not use the name Safe Haven, Haven, Doe, Unknown, nor shall the child’s last name be the same as the resource family the child is placed in.