Report 2007-124 All Recommendation Responses

Report 2007-124: Safely Surrendered Baby Law: Stronger Guidance From the State and Better Information for the Public Could Enhance Its Impact (Release Date: April 2008)

Recommendation #1 To: Social Services, Department of

To ensure that it is aware of and can appropriately react to changes in the number of abandoned babies, Social Services should work with the Department of Public Health and county agencies to gain access to the most accurate and complete statistics on abandoned babies.

Annual Follow-Up Agency Response From October 2013

In December 2012, CDSS worked with CDPH and county CWS agencies to gather data on abandoned infants for the 2010 calendar year in order to establish a data sharing process. The 2010 calendar year was chosen because, at that time, it was the most recent year for which complete data was available from CDPH. This review with CDPH resulted in identifying three such cases. CDSS also conducted a survey of county CWS agencies which resulted in counties reporting the same three cases. This same process will be utilized to gather data for subsequent years as data becomes available from CDPH. Under the MOU which has been executed.

  • Completion Date: December 2012

California State Auditor's Assessment of Annual Follow-Up Status: Fully Implemented


Annual Follow-Up Agency Response From November 2012

In the California Department of Social Services' (CDSS) six month and one year responses to the BSA's recommendation, CDSS noted that although this item has been partially implemented, the work of determining how to obtain information regarding abandoned babies from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) continues. A Memorandum of Understanding between CDSS and CDPH allows the departments to continue child death data analysis efforts. Currently, the data provided by CDPH is beneficial in identifying cases where children have died as a result of abuse and/or neglect. CDSS continues to work with CDPH to determine if the same data sharing process can be utilized to effectively identify, among the infants that have died as a result of abuse and/or neglect, the cases where the cause of death was abandonment.

  • Estimated Completion Date: January 2013

California State Auditor's Assessment of Annual Follow-Up Status: Not Fully Implemented


Recommendation #2 To: Social Services, Department of

To support future efforts related to the safe-surrender law, including continuing outreach and improving the quality of the State's statistics, Social Services should consider using a portion of existing funds, such as those available in its trust fund, and should consider renewing its partnership with First 5 California, which Social Services can legally use for such efforts.

Annual Follow-Up Agency Response From January 2011

Social Services used existing resources to fund a statewide hotline number providing callers with information about the location of safe surrender sites in their area. We are collecting data on the number of callers, the areas in which they reside, etc. We have also updated our outreach materials to display the new toll free number. In addition, AB 1983 was signed into law on September 30, 2010, which creates a new fund using tax check off donations that can be used for outreach and educational materials related to safely surrendered babies. Social Services released All County Information Notice (ACIN) number I-19-10 introducing the statewide hotline on March 29, 2010. Also, ACIN I-88-10 was released on November 2, 2010. This letter clarifies the definition of a safe surrender and provides safe surrender intake procedures, including situations in which babies are born and surrendered in a hospital and situations that require clarity between safe surrender and relinquishment for adoption. The letter also addresses SSB confidentiality issues by reiterating confidentiality protocols at intake and during data entry into CWS/CMS. Further, the letter corrects erroneous instructions from ACIN I-16-04 regarding waiver of confidentiality for the surrendering individual. Last, the letter issues an updated form: the Safely Surrendered Baby Medical Questionnaire (new Social Services form SOC 861) for use by safe surrender site staff in order to improve availability of medical information that may be vital to the health of a surrendered child. (2010-041, p. 54)

California State Auditor's Assessment of Annual Follow-Up Status: Fully Implemented


Recommendation #3 To: Social Services, Department of

To ensure that individuals who surrender babies receive proper protection under the safe surrender law, Social Services should clarify the definition of 'safe surrender', and then disseminate and monitor its use among county and state agencies. The clarified definition should address situations in which babies are born and surrendered in a hospital as well as those in which the individual surrendering the baby indicates that adoption is his or her ultimate goal. If Social Services believes statutory change is needed to do so, it should seek the requisite authority from the Legislature.

Annual Follow-Up Agency Response From January 2011

Social Services released ACIN number I-88-10 on November 2, 2010. This letter clarifies the definition of a safe surrender and provides safe surrender intake procedures, including situations in which babies are born and surrendered in a hospital and situations that require clarity between safe surrender and relinquishment for adoption. The letter also addresses SSB confidentiality issues by reiterating confidentiality protocols at intake and during data entry into CWS/CMS. Further, the letter corrects erroneous instructions from ACIN I-16-04 regarding waiver of confidentiality for the surrendering individual. Last, the letter issues an updated form: the Safely Surrendered Baby Medical Questionnaire (new Social Services form SOC 861) for use by safe surrender site staff in order to improve availability of medical information that may be vital to the health of a surrendered child. (2010-041, p. 55)

California State Auditor's Assessment of Annual Follow-Up Status: Fully Implemented


Recommendation #4 To: Social Services, Department of

To ensure that individuals who surrender babies receive proper protection under the safe-surrender law, Social Services should clarify the circumstances under which safe-surrender sites and counties must protect the identifying information on the individual who surrenders an infant. At a minimum, Social Services should revoke its erroneous guidance on the waiver of the privilege of confidentiality by individuals who safely surrender babies.

Annual Follow-Up Agency Response From January 2011

Social Services released ACIN number I-88-10 on November 2, 2010. This letter clarifies the definition of a safe surrender and provides safe surrender intake procedures, including situations in which babies are born and surrendered in a hospital and situations that require clarity between safe surrender and relinquishment for adoption. The letter also addresses SSB confidentiality issues by reiterating confidentiality protocols at intake and during data entry into CWS/CMS. Further, the letter corrects erroneous instructions from ACIN I-16-04 regarding waiver of confidentiality for the surrendering individual. Last, the letter issues an updated form: the Safely Surrendered Baby Medical Questionnaire (new Social Services form SOC 861) for use by safe surrender site staff in order to improve availability of medical information that may be vital to the health of a surrendered child. (2010-041, p. 55)

California State Auditor's Assessment of Annual Follow-Up Status: Fully Implemented


Recommendation #5 To: Social Services, Department of

To ensure that individuals who surrender babies receive proper protection under the safe-surrender law, Social Services should require counties to correct records in the CWS/CMS that Social Services' staff believe are erroneous because counties have misclassified babies as either surrendered or abandoned. Because Social Services does not believe it presently has the authority to do so, Social Services should seek legislation to obtain this authority.

Annual Follow-Up Agency Response From January 2011

When the law was enacted, previous CWPPD staff pursued such corrections during quarterly reviews of SSB data and recorded the information manually (stored in binders). Staff currently assigned to SSB have developed and maintained an electronic tool to complete the quarterly reviews. Additionally, in July 2008, staff developed a separate directory of referrals that require follow-up with assigned county personnel. This has enabled CWPPD staff to track correspondence when there are questions involving the correct classification of SSB cases, as well as other issues. We are currently re-visiting electronic copies of quarterly review data back to July 2008 and have identified a small number of cases that, although CDSS contacted county personnel regarding the issue, require additional follow up for clarification. For each case identified, CWPPD staff will contact county personnel and track subsequent conversations. (2010-041, p. 55)

California State Auditor's Assessment of Annual Follow-Up Status: Fully Implemented


Recommendation #6 To: Social Services, Department of

To provide surrendered babies and their health care providers as much information on their medical histories as possible, Social Services should consider ways to improve the availability of medical information.

Annual Follow-Up Agency Response From January 2011

Social Services released ACIN number I-88-10 on November 2, 2010. This letter clarifies the definition of a safe surrender and provides safe surrender intake procedures, including situations in which babies are born and surrendered in a hospital and situations that require clarity between safe surrender and relinquishment for adoption. The letter also addresses SSB confidentiality issues by reiterating confidentiality protocols at intake and during data entry into CWS/CMS. Further, the letter corrects erroneous instructions from ACIN I-16-04 regarding waiver of confidentiality for the surrendering individual. Last, the letter issues an updated form: the Safely Surrendered Baby Medical Questionnaire (new Social Services form SOC 861) for use by safe surrender site staff in order to improve availability of medical information that may be vital to the health of a surrendered child. (2010-041, p. 55)

California State Auditor's Assessment of Annual Follow-Up Status: Fully Implemented


Recommendation #7 To: Social Services, Department of

To continue promoting awareness of the safe-surrender law in the most cost-effective manner, Social Services should work with the counties to leverage models and tools currently in use in California, such as existing middle and high school curricula and translated materials.

Annual Follow-Up Agency Response From January 2011

Social Services currently has sufficient materials to promote the safe surrender of babies. We updated our existing materials to include the new statewide toll free number. We received a number of requests for the updated materials from counties and others, and the warehouse has actually run out of copies of some items. We have requested more copies be printed, which will be in stock shortly. Social Services contacted the Santa Clara County child welfare agency and obtained outreach brochures drafted in Chinese and Vietnamese. Social Services determined these met the criteria for official distribution, but unfortunately the cost for our staff to translate existing outreach materials far surpassed current department resources. (Any official Social Services publication is required to be processed by our Language Services Bureau, as per the requirements of California Government Code, Section 7290). Should additional language translation services become available, Social Services is interested in possibly utilizing such materials. AB 1983 was signed into law on September 30, 2010 and creates a new fund using tax check off donations that can be used for outreach and educational materials related to safely surrendered babies. We will determine if we can used the funds from the check off for this translation service in order to expand the amount of materials in languages other than English and Spanish. (2010-041, p. 56)

California State Auditor's Assessment of Annual Follow-Up Status: Fully Implemented


All Recommendations in 2007-124

Agency responses received after June 2013 are posted verbatim.