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Indicates Matter Stricken
Indicates New Matter
Sponsors: Reps. Limehouse, Anthony, Horne, Allison, Long and Brady
Document Path: l:\council\bills\ms\7003ahb11.docx
Introduced in the House on January 11, 2011
Currently residing in the House Committee on Judiciary
Summary: Abandoned babies
HISTORY OF LEGISLATIVE ACTIONS
Date Body Action Description with journal page number ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 12/7/2010 House Prefiled 12/7/2010 House Referred to Committee on Judiciary 1/11/2011 House Introduced and read first time (House Journal-page 61) 1/11/2011 House Referred to Committee on Judiciary (House Journal-page 62) 1/12/2011 House Member(s) request name added as sponsor: Long, Brady
View the latest legislative information at the LPITS web site
VERSIONS OF THIS BILL
TO AMEND SECTION 63-7-40, CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, RELATING TO SAFE HAVENS FOR ABANDONED BABIES, SO AS TO EXPAND THE PURVIEW OF THE STATUTE TO APPLY TO A CHILD UNDER THE AGE OF THREE YEARS OLD AND TO EXPAND THE DEFINITION OF THE TERM "SAFE HAVEN" TO INCLUDE A STAFFED LOCAL OR STATE OFFICE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:
SECTION 1. Section 63-7-40 of the 1976 Code is amended is to read:
"Section 63-7-40. (A) A safe haven in this State
must, without a court order, must take temporary physical custody of an infant a child who is voluntarily left with the safe haven by a person who does not express an intent to return for the infant child and the circumstances give rise to a reasonable belief that the person does not intend to return for the infant child. If the safe haven is a hospital or hospital outpatient facility, the hospital or hospital facility shall perform any act necessary to protect the physical health or safety of the infant child; any other safe haven shall, as soon as possible, but no later than six hours after receiving an infant a child, shall transport the infant child to a hospital or hospital outpatient facility. The person leaving the infant child is not required to disclose his or her identity; however, the person must leave the infant child in the physical custody of a staff member or employee of the safe haven.
(B)(1) The safe haven must offer the person leaving the
infant child information concerning the legal effect of leaving the infant child with the safe haven.
(2) The safe haven must ask the person leaving the
infant child to identify any parent of the infant child other than the person leaving the infant child with the safe haven. The safe haven also must attempt to obtain from the person information concerning the infant's child's background and medical history as specified on a form provided by the Department of Social Services. This information includes, but is not limited to, information concerning the use of a controlled substance by the infant's child's mother, provided that information regarding the use of a controlled substance by the infant's child's mother is not admissible as evidence of the unlawful use of a controlled substance in any court proceeding. The safe haven shall give the person a copy of the form and a prepaid envelope for mailing the form to the Department of Social Services if the person does not wish to provide the information to the safe haven. These materials must be provided to safe havens by the department.
(3) Any identifying information disclosed by the person leaving the
infant child must be kept confidential by the safe haven and disclosed to no one other than the department. However, if a court determines that the immunity provisions of subsection (H) do not apply, the safe haven may disclose the information as permitted by confidentiality protections applicable to records of the safe haven, if the safe haven has such confidentiality protections for records. The department shall maintain confidentiality of this information in accordance with Section 63-7-1990.
(C) Not later than the close of the first business day after the date on which a hospital or hospital outpatient facility takes possession of
an infant a child pursuant to subsection (A), the hospital or hospital outpatient facility shall notify the department that it has taken temporary physical custody of the infant child. The department has legal custody of the infant child immediately upon receipt of the notice. The department shall assume physical control of the infant child as soon as practicable upon receipt of the notice, but no later than twenty-four hours after receiving notice that the infant child is ready for discharge from the hospital or hospital outpatient facility. Assumption of custody by the department pursuant to this subsection does not constitute emergency protective custody, and the provisions of Subarticle 3 of, Article 3 do not apply. The department is not required to initiate a child protective services investigation solely because an infant a child comes into its custody under pursuant to this subsection.
(D) Immediately after receiving notice from a hospital or hospital outpatient facility pursuant to subsection (C), the department shall contact the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division for assistance in assuring that the
infant child is not a missing infant child. The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division shall treat the request as ongoing for a period of thirty days and shall contact the department if a missing infant child report is received that might relate to the infant child.
(E)(1) Within forty-eight hours after taking legal custody of the
infant child, the department shall publish notice, in a newspaper of general circulation in the area where the safe haven that initially took the infant child is located, and send a news release to broadcast and print media in the area. The notice and the news release must state the circumstances under which the infant child was left at the safe haven, a description of the infant child, and the date, time, and place of the permanency planning hearing provided for in subsection (E)(2). The notice and the news release must also state that any person wishing to assert parental rights in regard to the infant child must do so at the hearing. If the person leaving the infant child identified anyone as being a parent of the infant child, the notice must be sent by certified mail to the last known address of the person identified as a parent at least two weeks prior to the hearing.
(2) Within forty-eight hours after obtaining legal custody of the
infant child, the department shall file a petition alleging that the infant child has been abandoned, that the court should dispense with reasonable efforts to preserve or reunify the family, that continuation of keeping the infant child in the home of the parent or parents would be contrary to the welfare of the infant child, and that termination of parental rights is in the best interest of the infant child. A hearing on the petition must be held no earlier than thirty and no later than sixty days after the department takes legal custody of the infant child. This hearing is the permanency planning hearing for the infant child. If the court approves the permanent plan of termination of parental rights, the order must also provide that a petition for termination of parental rights on the grounds of abandonment must be filed within ten days after receipt of the order by the department.
(F) The act of leaving
an infant a child with a safe haven pursuant to this section is conclusive evidence that the infant child has been abused or neglected for purposes of Department of Social Services' jurisdiction and for evidentiary purposes in any judicial proceeding in which abuse or neglect of an infant a child is an issue. It is also conclusive evidence that the requirements for termination of parental rights have been satisfied as to any parent who left the infant child or acted in concert with the person leaving the infant child.
(G) A person who leaves
an infant a child at a safe haven or directs another person to do so must not be prosecuted for any criminal offense on account of such action if:
(1) the person is a parent of the
infant child or is acting at the direction of a parent;
(2) the person leaves the
infant child in the physical custody of a staff member or an employee of the safe haven; and
infant child is not more than thirty days three years old or the infant child is reasonably determined by the hospital or hospital outpatient facility to be not more than thirty days three years old.
This subsection does not apply to prosecution for the infliction of any harm upon the
infant child other than the harm inherent in abandonment.
(H) A safe haven and its agents, and any health care professionals practicing within a hospital or hospital outpatient facility, are immune from civil or criminal liability for any action authorized by this section, so long as the safe haven, or health care professional, complies with all provisions of this section.
(I) The department, either alone or in collaboration with any other public entity, shall take appropriate measures to achieve public awareness of the provisions of this section.
(J) For purposes of this section:
infant child' means a person not more than thirty days three years old; and
(2) 'safe haven' means a hospital or hospital outpatient facility, a law enforcement agency, a fire station, an emergency medical services station, a local or state office of the Department of Social Services during staffed hours, or any staffed house of worship during hours when the facility is staffed.
(K) Annually the department shall submit a report to the General Assembly containing data on
infants children who come into the custody of the department pursuant to this section. The data must include, but are not limited to, the date, time, and place where the infant child was left, the hospital to which the infant child was taken, the health of the infant child at the time of being admitted to the hospital, disposition and placement of the infant child, and, if available, circumstances surrounding the infant child being left at the safe haven. No data in the report may contain identifying information."
SECTION 2. This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.
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