AN ACT TO REVISE THE LAWS PERTAINING TO THE SAFE SURRENDER OF INFANTS UNDER THE ABUSE, NEGLECT, DEPENDENCY LAWS AND TO MAKE CONFORMING STATUTORY CHANGES.
Enacts Article 5A, Safe Surrender of Infants, to GS Chapter 7B. Sets forth the purpose of the Article and establishes that the Article's provisions exclusively apply to safely surrendered infants, as defined under specified current law.
Mandates that the following professionals take temporary custody of an infant reasonably believed to be under seven days old, without a court order, who is voluntarily delivered to the individual by the infant's parent who does not express intent to return for the infant: health care providers on duty or at a hospital; local or district health department, or nonprofit community health center; first responders; and social services workers on duty or at a local department of social services. Requires these persons taking temporary custody to perform any necessary acts to protect the physical health and well-being of the infant, and immediately notify the department of social services. Permits the individual to ask the parent personal and medical questions and to advise the parent that the information can facilitate the child's adoption, but requires the individual to notify the parent that the parent is not required to provide any information. Requires the individual to give the parent written information created by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Division of Social Services, which includes described content such as how to seek reunification. Requires confidentiality of the surrendering parent's identity by the individual taking temporary custody of the infant and any facility involved in the infant's care at that time, unless the parent consents to release. Requires the individual taking temporary custody to provide the director of the department of social services the information provided by the surrendering parent, if any, and requires identifying information be kept confidential by the director unless otherwise necessary under Article 5A or to contact the nonsurrendering parent.
Authorizes the director of a department of social services (director) to take temporary custody of a safely surrendered infant without a court order to arrange for the placement, supervision, care, and transportation of the infant. Requires the director to use a health care provider to determine the age of the infant and any signs of abuse or neglect, and notify law enforcement of the surrender and provide any necessary information to investigate through state and national resources whether the infant is a missing child. Directs the director to treat the infant as a report of dependency, but prohibits contact attempts with the surrendering parent prior to the first hearing regarding continued nonsecured custody except as provided. Prohibits a director from proceeding under the Article's provisions if the director determines to a reasonable medical certainty that the infant is not under seven days old, the infant shows signs of abuse or neglect, there is reason to believe the surrendering individual was not the parent, or there is reason to believe the parent intended to return for the infant at the time of surrender.
Grants limited civil and criminal immunity to an individual to whom an infant is surrendered under GS 7B-521, and to a parent surrendering an infant consistent with the Article's provisions, so long as the individual or parent was acting in good faith.
Details special notice requirements for the first hearing to determine continued nonsecure custody and for every subsequent hearing that addresses the petition for dependency, including notice by publication. Establishes that the act of voluntarily surrendering an infant waives a surrendering parent's right to personal service of process regarding juvenile proceedings which the surrendered infant is the subject of a petition for dependency as a safely surrendered infant or for a termination of parental rights under Article 11 of the Chapter. Establishes that a surrendering parent is entitled to notice by publication, as specified, unless the parent contacts the local department or the court. Maintains the due process rights of the nonsurrendering parent.
Permits a surrendering parent to contact the local department or the court to seek to regain custody, express a desire to participate in the dependency proceedings, or inquire about the infant's well-being at any time prior to an order terminating the parent's parental rights. Subsequently, the surrendering parent is entitled to personal service of process and no longer deemed to have waived the right. Requires the juvenile court proceedings to proceed. Requires the court to take any action the court deems necessary to verify the identity and parentage of anyone claiming to be a parent of a safely surrendered infant prior to making placement determinations that involve that parent or that parent's relative.
Amends GS 7B-101 to include safely surrendered infants in the term dependent juvenile. Adds the terms nonsurrendering parent, safely surrendered infant, and surrendering parent. Modifies neglected juvenile to exclude infants safely surrendered under Article 5A.
Amends GS 7B-504 to specify that a copy of a nonsecure custody order is not required to be given to a surrendering parent. Amends GS 7B-505, 7B-506, 7B-901, and 7B-1105 to permit a court, regarding nonsecure custody placement, continued custody, initial dispositions, or termination of parental rights, to specify in its order the nature of diligent efforts expected concerning identifying and locating a missing parent, taking into account the consideration of the circumstances surrounding the safe surrender of the infant and the best interest of the child. Amends 7B-602 to require the court to dismiss provisional counsel at the first hearing if the respondent parent is the surrendering parent of a safely surrendered infant who has not contacted the department of social services or the court. Further amends GS 7B-901 to require the court include in its disposition order that reunification efforts are not required if a court of competent jurisdiction has determined that the juvenile is a safely surrendered infant under Article 5A and the parent is a surrendering parent who has not contacted the department of social services or the court. Amends GS 7B-1102 to require service in accordance with GS 1A-1, Rule 4, upon a motion to terminate parental rights if the case involves a safely surrendered infant and the court ordered service by publication pursuant to Article 5. Amends GS 7B-1111 to exclude termination of parental rights on the grounds that the parental rights of the parent with respect to another child of the parent have been terminated involuntarily and the parents lacks the ability or willingness to establish a safe home, if the other child of the parent was a safely surrendered infant or the parent was a surrendering parent and parental rights were terminated after the parent voluntarily abandoned the infant under Article 5A for at least 60 consecutive days.
Makes conforming changes to GS 7B-302, GS 7B-500, GS 7B-501, GS 7B-503, GS 7B-506, GS 7B-1111, and GS 14-322.3. Makes further conforming changes to GS 115C-47, GS 115C-218.75, GS 115C-548, GS 115C-556, and GS 115C-565 concerning student education on safe surrender of infants.
Effective October 1, 2019.
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