New Revisions to CPS Handbook 2007 – Texas


This revision of the Child Protective Services Handbook was published on November 1, 2007. Summaries of new revised items are posted below, followed by the edited versions with significant changes noted in red. Not displayed are minor copy editing and formatting changes.

Baby Moses Cases

The items listed below are revised to include:

  ·  the recent change in the law allowing CPS to file for termination of parental rights as a part of the original petition;

  ·  the presumption that the person who delivers the child to the designated emergency infant care provider is the biological parent, and intends to relinquish parental rights; and

  ·  criteria for determining whether or not a child born and left at a hospital constitutes a Baby Moses case.

Changes made for style and clarification are not displayed in revision mode. See:

2360 Baby Moses Cases

2361 Criteria for a Baby Moses Case

2361.1 A Harmed Infant

2361.2 A Designated Emergency Infant Care (DEIC) Provider

2362.3 When Someone Claims to Be a Parent or Relative of the Infant

Correction

Item 7244 is deleted to correct an oversight made during a revision in September 2006, when the information in Item 7244 was incorporated into 7460 Intermittent Alternate Care, Baby-Sitting, Overnight Care, and Respite Care.

2360 Baby Moses Cases

CPS October 2006 November 2007

A Baby Moses case is a specific type of abandonment case in which an infant has been delivered to a designated emergency infant care (DEIC) provider and other statutory criteria are met. The purpose of this law is to encourage parents who might otherwise abandon a newborn in a dumpster or other unsafe place to deliver an infant safely to an appropriate facility. To encourage use of DEIC providers and to promote safety, parents who comply with this law are protected from child abandonment allegations or criminal penalties. Some infants that are delivered to a designated emergency infant care (DEIC) provider are a special subset within the abandoned child definition and are often referred to as cases under the Baby Moses law.

Texas Family Code §§262.302; 262.303; 262.308; 262.309; and 263.407

2361 Criteria for a Baby Moses Case

CPS October 2006 November 2007

An abandoned infant meets the criteria for a Baby Moses case if the infant:

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

  ·  has not been harmed. See 2361.1 A Harmed Infant;

  ·  has been voluntarily delivered to a DEIC provider. See 2361.2 A Designated Emergency Infant Care (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.

When Statutory Criteria Are Not Met

If the criteria for a Baby Moses case are not met (that is, the infant is more than 60 days old, was harmed, or was delivered to a location other than a DEIC provider by someone other than a parent) DFPS must handle the case as it would any other abandonment case. A thorough investigation must be completed, including diligent search efforts to locate parents and relatives of the child. See 2224.1 Thorough Investigations.

When a Child Is Abandoned After Birth in a Medical Facility

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

  ·  the case meets the general criteria listed in this section;

  ·  the mother indicates in some direct manner that she is unwilling to parent the baby; and

  ·  there is no presumed father.

If a woman is admitted to a medical facility, gives birth, and leaves the medical facility without the baby but does not indicate a deliberate intent not to parent, the worker handles the case as an abandonment case regardless of whether or not there is a presumed father.

When Application of Statutory Criteria Is Unclear

If it is unclear whether a case should be handled as Baby Moses case, the worker consults with supervisory staff, and the DFPS regional attorney. In some instances, the court may close the courtroom and maintain confidentiality as in a Baby Moses case, even though DFPS has determined there is not sufficient basis to terminate parental rights under the Baby Moses statute.

2361.1 A Harmed Infant

CPS October 2006 November 2007

If a “harmed infant” is delivered to a designated emergency infant care (DEIC) provider, the situation is not a Baby Moses case.

The definition of a harmed infant includes, but is not limited to, an infant who:

  ·  appears to have been abused;

  ·  appears to have been neglected; or

  ·  has a positive toxicology screen and other factors (such as the condition of the child) indicate that harm resulted from exposure to alcohol, drugs, poisons, or other substances.

Exposure to Risk of Harm

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 an infant is left in a remote location in or near a DEIC, where no one is likely to find the child or an infant is left where the child is exposed to severe temperatures or similar dangers, the case is not appropriate for handling as a Baby Moses case. 

2361.2 A Designated Emergency Infant Care (DEIC) Provider

CPS October 2006 November 2007

According to the Baby Moses statutes, the following entities are DEIC providers:

  ·  an emergency medical services provider;

  ·  a hospital; and

  ·  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.

Texas Family Code §262.301

The following entities are not DEIC providers:

  ·  a DFPS office;

  ·  a police station; or

  ·  any other location that is not noted above as a DEIC provider.

If a parent delivers an infant to an entity that is not a DEIC provider, or delivers an infant in a manner that is not safe, the case does not qualify as a Baby Moses case.

If a woman is admitted to a medical facility and gives birth, then leaves the medical facility without the child, the case does not qualify as a Baby Moses case.

2362 Investigating Cases Under the Baby Moses Law

CPS October 2006 November 2007

After making sure that the infant is safe, the investigator must should immediately determine whether this case meets all of the criteria for a Baby Moses case. See 2361 Criteria for a Baby Moses Case.

In addition to performing the standard tasks for an investigation, the caseworker must take the following actions in every potential Baby Moses investigation:

  ·  Determine the facts surrounding the delivery of the infant to the facility: 

  ·  Know the specific location where the infant was found. If the location is outside the DEIC or in an out of the way location, take a photo of the location.

  ·  Obtain any available description of the person who left the baby, and any written or verbal information the person left.

  ·  Assess the health, age, and general well-being of the infant. This information may be necessary to determine whether the case should be handled as a Baby Moses case. 

  ·  Interview any persons at the designated emergency infant care (DEIC) provider who have information regarding the infant and obtain any form for voluntary disclosure of medical facts and history that was offered to and completed by the parent.

  ·  Notify the state office program specialist responsible for Baby Moses cases within 24 hours of initiating a Baby Moses investigation (excluding weekends and holidays).

  ·  Notify local law enforcement during the investigation and before the court renders an order to terminate parental rights that an infant has been abandoned under the Baby Moses law.

      Ask that law enforcement complete local and state law enforcement checks as well as National Crime Information Center (NCIC) checks to ensure that the abandoned infant has not been previously reported as a missing child. An NCIC check can generally be completed by a local law enforcement agency.

      If the local law enforcement agency cannot complete the NCIC check, fax a letter requesting the check to:

Texas Department of Public Safety

Fax: (512) 424-2885

      In the letter, the worker describes the infant, the city in which the infant was abandoned, and the known circumstances surrounding the abandonment. Include the worker’s name, address, phone number, and fax number.

      DPS will conduct an NCIC check to confirm that the infant has not been reported as a missing child.

Texas Family Code §263.407(c)

  ·  Search the paternity registry no earlier than the 30th day after the infant’s estimated date of birth, but as soon as possible after that date. This must be completed before the court enters an order to terminate parental rights. See 5390 Bureau of Vital Statistics Reporting Requirements.

Texas Family Code §263.407(c)

2362.1 Legal Provisions

CPS October 2006 November 2007

There are several differences between a regular CPS investigation and an investigation conducted under the Baby Moses law.

For Baby Moses cases it is presumed that the person who delivers an infant to a designated emergency infant care (DEIC) provider:

  ·  is the infant’s biological parent;

  ·  intends to relinquish parental rights and consents to the termination of parental rights with regard to the infant; and

  ·  intends to waive the right to notice of the suit terminating the parent-child relationship.

Unless a court order requires it, DFPS does not attempt to identify or locate the parent of an infant left under the Baby Moses law, in order to protect the confidentiality of the parent.

Texas Family Code §263.407(a)

Similarly, DFPS does not conduct a search for the relatives of the infant, as this would violate the confidentiality protection provided to the parent.

Texas Family Code §262.309

When DFPS files a petition for a Baby Moses case, DFPS requests a closed hearing. Unless the court finds that the interests of the child or the public would be better served by opening the hearing to the public, the court orders the hearing to be closed. .

Texas Family Code §262.308(c)

Any pleading or other document filed with the court is confidential, is not a public record, and must not be released other than to a party in a suit affecting the child, the party’s attorney, an attorney ad litem, or guardian ad litem.

Texas Family Code §262.308(b) and (d)

All identifying information about a person who delivers the infant to the DEIC provider is confidential and must not be released other than to a party in a suit affecting the child, the party’s attorney, an attorney ad litem, or guardian ad litem. This section does not prevent DFPS from serving notice, when required, to a parent in a suit to terminate parental rights.

Texas Family Code §262.308(a)

Parents cannot be criminally prosecuted for abandoning an infant under the Baby Moses law.

Texas Penal Code §22.041(h)

2362.2 Disposition of a Baby Moses Case

CPS October 2006 November 2007

The intent of the Baby Moses law is to prevent parents from abandoning infants in unsafe locations.

Although delivering an unharmed infant to a designated emergency infant care (DEIC) provider could otherwise meet the statutory definition of abandonment, the parent has abandoned the infant in a location that is legally designated as a safe haven.

If a case meets all of the necessary criteria for a Baby Moses case because the infant was not left in a situation in which he or she would be exposed to harm, the case is not investigated as abandonment and the disposition of the case is Ruled Out.

2362.3 When the Identity or Location of the Parent is Known

CPS October 2006

To avoid the risk of a termination decree being invalidated, it is as important to serve a parent with notice of a suit to terminate parental rights, as it is in any other case when DFPS knows a parent’s identity or location.

Due process in such cases requires DFPS to serve the parent, unless the parent waives service.

The notice may be served in person, or DFPS must make diligent efforts to locate the parent, and if unsuccessful the notice may be made by publication. See 5261 Diligent Search for Missing Parents.

When serving notice to a parent in this situation, every effort should be made to keep the parent’s identity anonymous to the extent possible.

Any questions about service should be referred to the regional attorney or the county or district attorney representing DFPS in the case.

2362.3 2362.4 When Someone Claims to Be a Parent or Relative of the Infant

CPS October 2006 November 2007

Parent of the Infant

If someone claims to be the parent of the infant before the court renders a final order terminating parental rights, DFPS must notify the court.

The court is required by statute to order genetic testing to determine parentage, unless parentage has previously been established.

Texas Family Code §263.407(b)

Relative of the Infant

If someone comes forward claiming to be a relative of the infant before the court renders a final order terminating parental rights, DFPS does not share any information with the individual except the cause number of the court case. DFPS informs the person that if he or she wants to be involved in the case, he or she must intervene in the court case.

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