§ 901 Purpose.
The child welfare policy of this State shall serve to advance the best interests and secure the safety of the child, while preserving the family unit whenever the safety of the child is not jeopardized. The child welfare policy of this State extends to all child victims, whether victims of intra-familial or extra-familial abuse and neglect. To that end this chapter, among other things:
(1) Provides for comprehensive and protective services for abused and neglected children;
(2) Mandates that reports of child abuse or neglect be made to the appropriate authorities; and
(3) Requires various agencies in Delaware's child protection system to work together to ensure the safety of children who are the subject of reports of abuse or neglect by conducting coordinated investigations, judicial proceedings and family assessments, and by providing necessary services.
This chapter also provides for the protection of children in facilities or organizations primarily concerned with child welfare and care that are required to be licensed under Delaware law by requiring the Delaware Department of Justice to notify any such facility where an employee of, or other person associated with, the facility has been charged with or convicted of an offense involving child sexual abuse.
§ 902 Definitions.
As used in this chapter, the following terms mean:
(1) "Abuse" or "abused child" as defined in § 901 of Title 10.
(2) "Baby" shall mean a child not more than 14 days old, except that for hospitals and their employees and volunteers, "baby" shall mean a child reasonably believed to be not more than 14 days old.
(3) "Child" shall mean any person who has not reached that person's own 18th birthday.
(4) "Child Protection Registry" or "Registry" means a collection of information as described in subchapter II of this chapter about persons who have been substantiated for abuse or neglect as provided in subchapter II of this chapter or who were substantiated between August 1, 1994, and February 1, 2003.
(5) "Child welfare proceeding" means any Family Court proceeding and subsequent appeal therefrom involving custody, visitation, guardianship, termination of parental rights, adoption or other related petitions that involve a dependent, neglected or abused child or a child at risk of same as determined by the Family Court.
(6) "Conviction" or "convicted" means entry of a plea of guilty or nolo contendere, regardless of whether the plea was subsequently discharged or dismissed under the first offenders domestic violence diversion program pursuant to § 1024 of Title 10, or under the first offenders controlled substances diversion program pursuant to § 4767 of this title, or of a Robinson plea, or of a probation before judgment discharge without judgment of conviction notwithstanding the provisions of § 4218(f) of Title 11, or a finding of guilt after trial, or a finding of not guilty after trial as a result of the defense of mental disease or defect pursuant to Title 11, or adjudication of delinquency for conduct which if committed by an adult, would constitute a crime; or "conviction" or "convicted" under similar proceedings of another state, territory or jurisdiction.
(7) "Department" shall mean the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families.
(8) "Director" shall mean the Director of the Division of Family Services of the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families.
(9) "Division" shall mean the Division of Family Services of the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families.
(10) "Family assessment and services" shall mean a case management approach by the Division of Family Services that provides for a prompt assessment of a child and the child's family and the circumstances of the reported incident (including the known history of the child and/or the alleged perpetrator) when there has been a report to the Division that the child was a victim of abuse or neglect, or at risk of maltreatment by a person responsible for that child's care, custody or control. Family assessment and services shall be used in conjunction with the investigation approach defined in paragraph (13) of this section but may not supplant it in circumstances which require an investigation. The family assessment response shall focus on the integrity and preservation of the family and shall assess the status of the child and the family in terms of the risk of abuse and neglect and, if necessary, plan and provide for the provision of community-based services to reduce the risk and to otherwise support the family.
(11) "Good faith" shall be presumed in the absence of evidence of malice or wilful misconduct.
(12) "Internal information system" shall mean a system of maintaining information related to all reports of abuse, neglect, investigations, family assessments, services and other relevant information.
(13) "Investigation" shall mean the collection of evidence in response to a report of abuse, neglect, or risk of maltreatment by a person responsible for that child's care, custody or control in order to determine if a child has been abused, neglected, or is at risk of maltreatment. The Division shall develop protocols for its investigations that focus on ensuring the well-being and safety of the child. The Division may conduct an investigation in response to any report of abuse, neglect, or risk of maltreatment but shall conduct an investigation as enumerated under § 906(e)(3) of this title.
(14) "Investigation Coordinator" shall mean a Department employee, appointed by the Secretary, who is authorized to independently track each reported case of alleged child abuse or neglect within the Department's internal information system and who is responsible for monitoring each reported case involving the death of, serious physical injury to, or allegations of sexual abuse of a child from inception to final criminal and civil disposition.
(15) "Multidisciplinary tracking system" shall mean an electronic system which the Investigation Coordinator utilizes to track and monitor each case involving the death of, or serious injury to, a child, or allegations of sexual abuse of a child, from inception to final criminal and civil disposition.
(16) "Neglect" as defined in § 901 of Title 10.
(17) "Physical injury" as defined in § 222 of Title 11.
(18) "Report" shall mean the communication of an allegation of child abuse or neglect to the Division pursuant to § 903 or § 905 of this title;
(19) "Serious physical injury" as defined in § 222 of Title 11.
(20) "Sexual abuse" as defined in § 901 of Title 10.
(21) "Special Investigator" shall mean a Division employee, appointed by the Secretary, who performs abuse and neglect investigations and possesses additional qualifications and authority as defined by § 9016 of Title 29.
(22) "Substantiation" means a finding by a preponderance of the evidence that abuse or neglect has occurred.
(23) "Those responsible for the care, custody and control of the child" or "care, custody and control" as defined in § 901 of Title 10.
60 Del. Laws, c. 494, § 1; 64 Del. Laws, c. 213, § 1; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1; 71 Del. Laws, c. 199, § 3; 72 Del. Laws, c. 179, § 3; 72 Del. Laws, c. 469, § 4; 73 Del. Laws, c. 187, §§ 2, 8; 73 Del. Laws, c. 412, §§ 2-5; 75 Del. Laws, c. 376, § 1; 76 Del. Laws, c. 136, §§ 14-16; 78 Del. Laws, c. 13, § 60; 78 Del. Laws, c. 403, § 2; 79 Del. Laws, c. 336, § 1.;
§ 902A Registration; procedure; notice.
§ 903 Reports required.
Any person, agency, organization or entity who knows or in good faith suspects child abuse or neglect shall make a report in accordance with § 904 of this title. For purposes of this section, "person" shall include, but shall not be limited to, any physician, any other person in the healing arts including any person licensed to render services in medicine, osteopathy or dentistry, any intern, resident, nurse, school employee, social worker, psychologist, medical examiner, hospital, health care institution, the Medical Society of Delaware or law-enforcement agency. In addition to and not in lieu of reporting to the Division of Family Services, any such person may also give oral or written notification of said knowledge or suspicion to any police officer who is in the presence of such person for the purpose of rendering assistance to the child in question or investigating the cause of the child's injuries or condition.
§ 904 Nature and content of report; to whom made.
Any report of child abuse or neglect required to be made under this chapter shall be made by contacting the Child Abuse and Neglect Report Line for the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families. An immediate oral report shall be made by telephone or otherwise. Reports and the contents thereof including a written report, if requested, shall be made in accordance with the rules and regulations of the Division, or in accordance with the rules and regulations adopted by the Division. No individual with knowledge of child abuse or neglect or knowledge that leads to a good faith suspicion of child abuse or neglect shall rely on another individual who has less direct knowledge to call the aforementioned report line.
§ 905 Telephone reports, Child Protection Registry and information.
(a) The Division shall establish and maintain a 24-hour statewide toll-free telephone report line operating at all times and capable of receiving all reports of alleged abuse and neglect as defined in § 901 of Title 10.
(b) The Division shall maintain a Child Protection Registry and an internal information system as defined by § 902 of this title. Reports unsubstantiated shall be kept in the internal information system by the Division.
(c) Every report of child abuse or neglect made to the Division shall be entered in the Division's internal information system and each such report involving the death of, serious physical injury to, or allegations of sexual abuse of a child shall also be entered in the Department's multi-disciplinary tracking system.
(d) Although reports may be made anonymously, the Division shall in all cases, after obtaining relevant information regarding alleged abuse or neglect, request the name and address of any person making a report.
(e) Upon receipt of a report, the Division shall immediately communicate such report to its appropriate Division staff, after a check has been made with the internal information system to determine whether previous reports have been made regarding actual or suspected abuse or neglect of the subject child, or any reports regarding any siblings, family members or the alleged perpetrator, and such information as may be contained from such previous reports. Such relevant information as may be contained in the internal information system shall also be forwarded to the appropriate Division staff.
(f) Upon receipt of a report of child abuse or neglect, the Division shall immediately notify the Investigation Coordinator of the report, in sufficient detail to permit the Investigation Coordinator to undertake the Investigation Coordinator's duties, as specified in § 906 of this title.
16 Del. C. 1953, § 1004; 58 Del. Laws, c. 154; 60 Del. Laws, c. 494, § 1; 64 Del. Laws, c. 108, § 4; 68 Del. Laws, c. 440, § 2; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1; 71 Del. Laws, c. 199, § 4; 73 Del. Laws, c. 412, §§ 26, 27; 77 Del. Laws, c. 320, § 3; 78 Del. Laws, c. 403, § 3.;
§ 906 State response to reports of abuse or neglect.
(a) The State's child protection system shall seek to promote the safety of children and the integrity and preservation of their families by conducting investigations and/or family assessments in response to reports of child abuse or neglect. The system shall endeavor to coordinate community resources and provide assistance or services to children and families identified to be at risk, and to prevent and remedy child abuse and neglect.
(b) It is the policy of this State that the investigation and disposition of cases involving child abuse or neglect shall be conducted in a comprehensive, integrated, multi-disciplinary manner that:
(1) Provides civil and criminal protections to the child and the community;
(2) Encourages the use of collaborative decision-making and case management to reduce the number of times a child is interviewed and examined to minimize further trauma to the child; and
(3) Provides safety and treatment for a child and his or her family by coordinating a therapeutic services system.
(c)(1) In implementing the Investigation Coordinator's role in the child protection system, the Investigation Coordinator, or the Investigation Coordinator's designee, shall:
a. Have the authority to track within the Department's internal information system each reported case of alleged child abuse or neglect;
b. Monitor each case involving the death of, serious physical injury to, or allegations of sexual abuse of a child from inception to final criminal and civil disposition, and provide information every 60 days on the status of each case to the Division, the Department, the Delaware Department of Justice, the Children's Advocacy Center, and the Office of Child Advocate;
c. Within 5 business days of the receipt of a report concerning allegations of child abuse or neglect by a person known to be licensed or certified by a Delaware agency or professional regulatory organization, forward a report of such allegations to the appropriate Delaware agency or professional regulatory organization;
d. Report every case involving the death or near death of a child due to abuse or neglect to the Child Death, Near Death and Stillbirth Commission pursuant to § 323(e) of Title 31; and
e. Provide information to the Child Protection Accountability Commission ("CPAC"), as requested by CPAC, regarding the status, trends, and outcomes of any case or cases of child abuse or neglect that are reported to the Division. Reports to CPAC shall not disclose the identities of the child, alleged perpetrators, or others involved in the case or cases.
(2) All information and records received, prepared, or maintained by the Investigation Coordinator, or the Investigation Coordinator's designee, are confidential and shall be exempt from the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, Chapter 100 of Title 29. However, the disclosure of case specific data and information to the multidisciplinary team is authorized to ensure a comprehensive, integrated, multidisciplinary response to child abuse cases.
(3) The Investigation Coordinator, and the Investigation Coordinator's designee, as state employees, are entitled to immunity in accordance with § 4001 of Title 10.
(d) In implementing law enforcement's role in the child protection system, the law-enforcement agency investigating a report of child abuse shall:
(1) Report every case of child abuse to the Division as required by § 903 of this title; and
(2) Provide information as necessary to the Investigation Coordinator to permit case tracking, monitoring and reporting by the Investigation Coordinator.
(e) In implementing the Division's role in the child protection system, the Division shall:
(1) Receive and maintain reports pursuant to the provisions of §§ 903 and 905 of this title;
(2) Forward reports to the appropriate Division staff, who shall determine, through the use of protocols developed by the Division, whether an investigation or the family assessment and services approach should be used to respond to the allegation. The protocols for making this determination shall be developed by the Division and shall give priority to ensuring the well-being and safety of the child;
(3) The Division may investigate any report, but shall conduct an investigation involving all reports, which if true, would constitute violations against a child by a person responsible for the care, custody and control of the child of any of the following provisions of § 603, § 604, § 611, § 612, § 613, § 621, § 625, § 626, § 631, § 632, § 633, § 634, § 635, § 636, § 645, § 763, § 765, § 766, § 767, § 768, § 769, § 770, § 771, § 772, § 773, § 774, § 775, § 776, § 777, § 780, § 782, § 783, § 783A, § 791, § 1100A, § 1101, § 1102, § 1107, § 1108, § 1109, § 1110, § 1111, or § 1259 of Title 11, or an attempt to commit any such crimes. The Division staff shall also contact the Delaware Department of Justice and the appropriate law-enforcement agency upon receipt of any report under this section and shall provide such agency with a detailed description of the report received. The appropriate law-enforcement agency shall assist the Division in the investigation or provide the Division, within a reasonable time, an explanation detailing the reasons why it is unable to assist. Notwithstanding any provision of the Delaware Code to the contrary, to the extent the law-enforcement agency with jurisdiction over the case is unable to assist, the Division may request that the Delaware State Police exercise jurisdiction over the case and upon such request the Delaware State police may exercise such jurisdiction;
(4) The assisting law-enforcement agency shall promptly conduct its own criminal investigation, and keep the Division regularly apprised of the status and findings of its investigation. Law-enforcement agencies and the Division shall develop protocols to ensure compliance with this subsection;
(5) Ensure that every case of child death, and every case of near death due to abuse or neglect, is reported to the Child Death, Near Death and Stillbirth Commission pursuant to § 323(e) of Title 31;
(6) Ensure that all cases involving allegations of child abuse or neglect by a person known to be licensed or certified by a Delaware agency or professional regulatory organization, have been reported to the appropriate Delaware agency or professional regulatory organization and the Investigation Coordinator in accordance with the provisions of this section;
(7) The Division shall have authority to secure a medical examination of a child, without the consent of those responsible for the care, custody and control of the child, if the child has been reported to be a victim of abuse or neglect; provided, that such case is classified as an investigation pursuant to paragraph (e)(3) of this section and the Director or the Director's designee gives prior authorization for such examination upon finding that such examination is necessary to protect the health and safety of the child;
(8) The investigation shall include, but need not be limited to, the nature, extent and cause of the abuse or neglect, collection of evidence, the identity of the alleged perpetrator, the names and condition of other children and adults in the home, the home environment, the relationship of the subject child to the parents or other persons responsible for the child's care, any indication of incidents of physical violence against any other household or family member, background checks on all adults in the home, and the gathering of other pertinent information;
(9) In the family assessment and services approach, assess service needs of the family from information gathered from the family and other sources. The Division shall identify and provide for services for families where it is determined that the child is at risk of abuse or neglect. The Division shall document its attempt to provide voluntary services and the reasons these services are important to reduce the risk of future abuse or neglect. If the family refuses to accept or avoids the proffered services, the Division may refer the case for investigation or terminate services;
(10) Commence an immediate investigation if at any time during the family assessment and services approach the Division determines that an investigation as delineated in paragraph (e)(3) of this section is required or is otherwise appropriate. The Division staff who have conducted the assessment may remain involved in the provision of services to the child and family;
(11) Conduct a family assessment and services approach on reports initially referred for an investigation, if it is determined that a complete investigation is not required. The reason for the termination of the investigative process shall be documented;
(12) Assist the child and family in obtaining services, if at any time during the investigation it is determined that the child or any member of the family needs services;
(13) Identify local services and assist with access to those services for children and families where there is risk of abuse or neglect;
(14) Update the internal information system at regular intervals during the course of the investigation. At the conclusion of the investigation or family assessment, the internal information system shall be updated to include a case finding;
(15) When a written report is made by a person required to report under § 903 of this title, the Division shall contact the person who made such report within 48 hours of the receipt of the report in order to ensure that full information has been received and to obtain any additional information or medical records, or both, which may be pertinent;
(16) Upon completion of an investigation or family assessment and services approach, if the Division suspects that the report was made maliciously or for the purpose of harassment, the Division shall refer the report and any evidence of malice or harassment to the appropriate law enforcement agency;
(17) Multidisciplinary services shall be used whenever possible in conducting the investigation or family assessment and services approach, including the services of law-enforcement agencies, the medical community, and other agencies, both public and private;
(18) A person required to report under § 903 of this title to the Division shall be informed by the Division of the person's right to obtain information concerning the disposition of the report. Such person shall receive, from the local office, if requested, information on the general disposition of the report at the conclusion of the investigation;
(19) In any judicial proceeding involving the custody of child, the fact that a report has been made pursuant to § 903 or § 905 of this title shall not be admissible unless offered by the Division as a party or as a friend of the Court or if the Division is a party. However, nothing herein shall prohibit the introduction of evidence from independent sources to support the allegations that may have caused a report to have been made;
(20) To protect the privacy of the family and the child named in a report, the Division shall establish guidelines concerning the disclosure of information concerning the abuse and neglect involving a child. The Division may require persons to make written requests for access to records maintained by the Division. The Division shall only release information to persons who have a legitimate public safety need for such information or a need based on the health and safety of a child subject to abuse, neglect or the risk of maltreatment, and such information shall be used only for the purpose for which the information is released; and
(21) Upon the receipt of a report concerning allegations of abuse or neglect against a person known by the Division to be licensed by 1 of the boards listed in § 8735 of Title 29, forward reports to the Division of Professional Regulation.
(f) In implementing the Delaware Department of Justice's role in the child protection system, it shall:
(1) Report every case of child abuse to the Division pursuant to § 903 of this title;
(2) Ensure that every case of child death and every case of near death due to abuse or neglect has been reported to the Child Death, Near Death and Stillbirth Commission pursuant to § 323(e) of Title 31;
(3) Provide information as necessary to the Investigation Coordinator to permit case tracking, monitoring and reporting by the Investigation Coordinator; and
(4) Ensure that all cases involving allegations of child abuse or neglect by a person known to be licensed or certified by a Delaware agency or professional regulatory organization, have been reported to the appropriate Delaware agency or professional regulatory organization and the Investigation Coordinator in accordance with provisions of this section.
(g) In the event that a criminal prosecution for child sexual abuse or exploitation is initiated by the Delaware Department of Justice against a person employed by or associated with a facility or organization required to be licensed or whose staff personnel are required to be licensed under Delaware law whose primary concern is that of child welfare and care, the Delaware Department of Justice shall notify such employer within 48 hours.
Any violations of this subsection shall be dealt with administratively by the Attorney General and the penalty provisions of § 914 of this title shall not apply hereto.
(h) In the event that a criminal prosecution for abuse or neglect is initiated by the Delaware Department of Justice pursuant to a report under this chapter and incarceration of the person who is the subject of the report is ordered by the court, the Delaware Department of Justice shall keep the Division informed of actions taken by the courts which result in the release of any such individual.
71 Del. Laws, c. 199, § 5; 71 Del. Laws, c. 424, § 8; 72 Del. Laws, c. 173, § 5; 73 Del. Laws, c. 412, § 28; 77 Del. Laws, c. 318, § 6; 77 Del. Laws, c. 320, §§ 4, 5; 78 Del. Laws, c. 403, § 4; 78 Del. Laws, c. 406, § 1; 79 Del. Laws, c. 336, § 2.;
§ 907 Temporary emergency protective custody.
(a) A police officer or a physician who reasonably suspects that a child is in imminent danger of suffering serious physical harm or a threat to life as a result of abuse or neglect and who reasonably suspects the harm or threat to life may occur before the Family Court can issue a temporary protective custody order may take or retain temporary emergency protective custody of the child without the consent of the child's parents, guardian or others legally responsible for the child's care.
(b) Any person taking a child into temporary emergency protective custody under this section shall immediately notify the Division, in the county in which the child is located, of the person's actions and make a reasonable attempt to advise the parents, guardians, or others legally responsible for the child's care. Such person shall also file, as soon as practicable but no later than 12 hours thereafter, a written statement with the Division which sets forth the identity of the child and the facts and circumstances which gave such person reasonable cause to believe that there was imminent danger of serious physical harm or threat to the life of the child. Upon notification that a child has been taken into temporary emergency protective custody, the Division shall immediately respond in accordance with § 906 of this title to secure the safety of the child which may include ex parte custody relief from the Family Court if appropriate.
(c) Temporary emergency protective custody for purposes of this section shall not exceed 4 hours and shall cease upon the Division's response pursuant to subsection (b).
(d) For the purposes of this section, temporary emergency protective custody shall mean temporary placement within a hospital, medical facility or such other suitable placement; provided, however, that an abused or neglected child may not be detained in temporary custody in a secure detention facility.
(e) A Division investigator conducting an investigation pursuant to § 906 of this title shall have the same authority as that granted to a police officer or physician in paragraph (a) of this section, subject to all the same conditions as those listed in paragraphs (a) through (d) of this section, provided that the child in question is located at a school, day care facility or child care facility at the time that the authority is initially exercised. In no other case shall an employee of the Division exercise custody under this section.
§ 907A Safe Arms for Babies.
(a) The General Assembly finds and declares that the abandonment of a baby is an irresponsible act by parent or parents and places the baby at risk of injury or death from exposure, actions by other individuals, and harm from animals. However, the General Assembly does recognize that delivering a live baby to a safe place is far preferable to a baby killed or abandoned by the parent or parents. The General Assembly further finds and declares that the purpose of this section is not to circumvent the responsible action of parent or parents who adhere to the current process of placing the baby for adoption, but to prevent the unnecessary risk of harm to or death of that baby by desperate parent or parents who would otherwise abandon or cause the death of that baby. The General Assembly further finds and declares that medical information about the baby and the baby's parent or parents is critical for the adoptive parents and that every effort should be made, without risking the safe placement of the baby, to obtain that medical information and provide counseling information to those parent or parents. The General Assembly further finds and declares that if this section does not result in the safe placement of such babies or is abused by parent or parents attempting to circumvent the current process of adoption, it should be repealed.
(b) A person may voluntarily surrender a baby directly to an employee or volunteer of the emergency department of a Delaware hospital inside of the emergency department, provided that said baby is surrendered alive, unharmed and in a safe place therein.
(c) A Delaware hospital shall be authorized to take temporary emergency protective custody of the baby who is surrendered pursuant to this section. The person who surrenders the baby shall not be required to provide any information pertaining to his or her identity, nor shall the hospital inquire as to same. If the identity of the person is known to the hospital, the hospital shall keep the identity confidential. However, the hospital shall either make reasonable efforts to directly obtain pertinent medical history information pertaining to the baby and the baby's family or attempt to provide the person with a postage paid medical history information questionnaire.
(d) The hospital shall attempt to provide the person leaving the baby with the following:
(1) Information about the Safe Arms program;
(2) Information about adoption and counseling services, including information that confidential adoption services are available and information about the benefits of engaging in a regular, voluntary adoption process; and
(3) Brochures with telephone numbers for public or private agencies that provide counseling or adoption services.
(e) The hospital shall attempt to provide the person surrendering the baby with the number of the baby's identification bracelet to aid in linking the person to the baby at a later date, if reunification is sought. Such an identification number is an identification aid only and does not permit the person possessing the identification number to take custody of the baby on demand.
(f) If a person possesses an identification number linking the person to a baby surrendered at a hospital under this section and parental rights have not already been terminated, possession of the identification number creates a presumption that the person has standing to participate in an action. Possession of the identification number does not create a presumption of maternity, paternity or custody.
(g) Any hospital taking a baby into temporary emergency protective custody pursuant to this section shall immediately notify the Division and the State Police of its actions. The Division shall obtain ex parte custody and physically appear at the hospital within 4 hours of notification under this subsection unless there are exigent circumstances. Immediately after being notified of the surrender, the State Police shall submit an inquiry to the Delaware Missing Children Information Clearinghouse.
(h) The Division shall notify the community that a baby has been abandoned and taken into temporary emergency protective custody by publishing notice to that effect in a newspaper of statewide circulation. The notice must be published at least 3 times over a 3-week period immediately following the surrender of the baby unless the Division has relinquished custody. The notice, at a minimum, shall contain the place, date and time where the baby was surrendered, the baby's sex, race, approximate age, identifying marks, any other information the Division deems necessary for the baby's identification, and a statement that such abandonment shall be:
(1) The surrendering person's irrevocable consent to the termination of all parental rights, if any, of such person on the ground of abandonment; and
(2) The surrendering person's irrevocable waiver of any right to notice of or opportunity to participate in any termination of parental rights proceeding involving such child, unless such surrendering person manifests an intent to exercise parental rights and responsibilities within 30 days of such abandonment.
(i) When the person who surrenders a baby pursuant to this section manifests a desire to remain anonymous, the Division shall neither initiate nor conduct an investigation to determine the identity of such person, and no court shall order such an investigation unless there is good cause to suspect child abuse or neglect other than the act of surrendering such baby.
§ 908 Immunity from liability, and special reimbursement to hospitals for expenses related to certain babies.
(a) Anyone participating in good faith in the making of a report or notifying police officers pursuant to this chapter, performing a medical examination without the consent of those responsible for the care, custody and control of a child pursuant to § 906(e)(7) of this title, or exercising emergency protective custody in compliance with § 907 of this title, shall have immunity from any liability, civil or criminal, that might otherwise exist, and such immunity shall extend to participation in any judicial proceeding resulting from the above actions taken in good faith. This section shall not limit the liability of any health care provider for personal injury claims due to medical negligence that occurs as a result of any examination performed pursuant to § 906(e)(3) of this title.
(b) A hospital, hospital employee or hospital volunteer which accepts temporary emergency protective custody of a baby pursuant to § 907A of this title is absolutely immune from civil and administrative liability for any act of commission or omission in connection with the acceptance of that temporary emergency protective custody or the provision of care for the baby when left at the hospital while said baby is in the hospital's temporary emergency protective custody except for negligence or intentional acts. If a hospital accepts temporary emergency protective custody of a baby pursuant to § 907A of this title, the State shall reimburse the hospital for eligible, medically necessary costs under the Medicaid Fee for Service Program.
16 Del. C. 1953, § 1005; 58 Del. Laws, c. 154; 60 Del. Laws, c. 494, § 1; 71 Del. Laws, c. 199, § 5; 72 Del. Laws, c. 179, § 5; 73 Del. Laws, c. 187, §§ 4, 5, 8; 75 Del. Laws, c. 376, § 1; 78 Del. Laws, c. 403, § 4.;
§ 909 Privileged communication not recognized.
No legally recognized privilege, except that between attorney and client and that between priest and penitent in a sacramental confession, shall apply to situations involving known or suspected child abuse, neglect, exploitation or abandonment and shall not constitute grounds for failure to report as required by § 903 of this title or to give or accept evidence in any judicial proceeding relating to child abuse or neglect.
§ 910 Court orders to compel.
(a) Whenever an investigation has been opened with the Division pursuant to § 906 of this title for potential abuse or neglect of a child, the Division shall have the authority to petition for an order from the Family Court:
(1) To obtain access to the child, or children, and the residence of child, or children; or
(2) To compel the appearance of a person at an office of the Division in furtherance of the investigation; or
(3) To compel compliance with a treatment plan previously agreed to by a child's parent or guardian, if noncompliance with the plan endangers a child's safety; or
(4) To compel completion of a substance abuse or mental health evaluation by the parent or guardian or completion of a developmental health screening for the child or children.
(b) The Family Court shall issue such an order upon the Division establishing by a preponderance of evidence that it provided written notice of its intent to file the petition and:
(1) For petitions requesting relief under paragraph (a)(1), (a)(2), or (a)(3)of this section:
a. That the Division has in good faith attempted on at least 2 separate prior occasions, at least 1 of which was by written communication sent by certified mail, return receipt requested, to contact the person in question without success; or
b. That a child is in actual danger or there is an imminent risk of danger due to the Division's inability to communicate with the person or see the child or the child's residence;
(2) For petitions requesting relief under paragraph (a)(4) of this section, the investigation has revealed that substance abuse, mental health conditions, or developmental delays may be factors placing the child at risk of abuse or neglect.
(c) The Family Court shall enforce noncompliance with such an order pursuant to § 925(3) of Title 10.
(d) Petitions filed pursuant to this section may be granted on an ex parte basis if a child is at risk of imminent physical danger, provided that the Family Court shall consider all requests pursuant to paragraphs (a)(1), (a)(2) and (a)(3) of this section within 2 business days of the request being made. The Family Court shall consider all petitions filed under paragraph (a)(4) of this section within 10 business days of the filing.
(e) For petitions filed under paragraph (a)(4) of this section against any parent or guardian who is indigent, that indigent parent or guardian shall have the right to request a Court-appointed attorney authorized to practice law in this State to represent the parent or guardian at no cost to that parent or guardian.
§ 911 Training and information.
(a) The Division shall, on a continuing basis, undertake and maintain programs to inform all persons required to report abuse or neglect pursuant to § 903 of this title and the public of the nature, problem and extent of abuse and neglect, and of the remedial and therapeutic services available to children and their families and to encourage self-reporting and the voluntary acceptance of such services.
(b) The Division shall conduct ongoing training programs to advance the purpose of this section.
(c) The Division shall continuously publicize the existence of the 24-hour report-line to those required to report abuse or neglect pursuant to § 903 of this title of their responsibilities and to the public the existence of the 24-hour statewide toll-free telephone number to receive reports of abuse or neglect.
§ 912 The Child Protection Accountability Commission.
(a) The Delaware Child Protection Accountability Commission is hereby established. The Commission shall consist of 24 members with the at-large members and the Chair appointed by the Governor, and shall be staffed by the Office of the Child Advocate. Members of the Commission serving by virtue of position may appoint a designee to serve in their stead. The Commission shall be comprised of the following:
(1) The Secretary of the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families;
(2) The Director of the Division of Family Services;
(3) Two representatives from the Attorney's General Office, appointed by the Attorney General;
(4) Two members of the Family Court, appointed by the Chief Judge of the Family Court;
(5) One member of the House of Representatives, appointed by the Speaker of the House;
(6) One member of the Senate, appointed by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate;
(7) The Chair of the Child Placement Review Board;
(8) The Secretary of the Department of Education;
(9) The Director of the Division of Prevention and Behavioral Health Services;
(10) The Chair of the Domestic Violence Coordinating Council;
(11) The Superintendent of the Delaware State Police;
(12) The Chair of the Child Death, Near Death and Stillbirth Commission;
(13) The Investigation Coordinator, as defined in § 902 of this title;
(14) One youth or young adult who has experienced foster care in Delaware, appointed by the Secretary of the Department;
(15) One representative from the Office of Defense Services, appointed by the Chief Defender;
(16) Seven at-large members appointed by the Governor with 1 person from the medical community, 1 person from the Interagency Committee on Adoption who works with youth engaged in the foster care system, 1 person from a law-enforcement agency other than the State Police, and 4 persons from the child protection community. The law-enforcement representative may designate a proxy as needed.
(b) The Child Advocate shall serve as the Executive Director of the Commission to effectuate its purposes pursuant to Chapter 90A of Title 29. It shall be the purpose of the Commission to monitor Delaware's child protection system to best ensure the health, safety and well-being of Delaware's abused, neglected and dependent children. To that end, the Commission shall meet on a quarterly basis and shall:
(1) Examine and evaluate the policies, procedures and effectiveness of the child protection system and make recommendations for changes therein, focusing specifically on the respective roles in the child protection system of the Division of Family Services, the Division of Prevention and Behavioral Health Services, the Office of the Attorney General, the Family Court, the medical community, and law-enforcement agencies;
(2) Recommend changes in the policies and procedures for investigating and overseeing the welfare of abused, neglected and dependent children;
(3) Advocate for legislation and make legislative recommendations to the Governor and General Assembly;
(4) Access, develop and provide quality training to staff of the Division of Family Services, Deputy Attorneys General, Family Court, law enforcement officers, the medical community, educators, day-care providers, and others on child protection issues;
(5) Review and make recommendations concerning the well-being of Delaware's abused, neglected and dependent children including, but not limited to, issues relating to foster care, adoption, mental health services, victim services, education, rehabilitation, substance abuse and independent living; and
(6) Provide the following reports to the Governor:
a. An annual summary of the Commission's work and recommendations, including work of the Office of the Child Advocate, with copies thereof sent to the General Assembly; and
b. A quarterly written report of the Commission's activities and findings, in the form of minutes, made available also to the General Assembly and the public.
71 Del. Laws, c. 199, § 6; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1; 73 Del. Laws, c. 116, §§ 1-3, 5; 76 Del. Laws, c. 97; 77 Del. Laws, c. 327, § 210(a); 77 Del. Laws, c. 383, §§ 1-3; 79 Del. Laws, c. 322, § 1; 80 Del. Laws, c. 26, § 5.;
§ 913 Child under treatment by spiritual means not neglected.
No child who in good faith is under treatment solely by spiritual means through prayer in accordance with the tenets and practices of a recognized church or religious denomination by a duly accredited practitioner thereof shall for that reason alone be considered a neglected child for the purposes of this chapter.
§ 914 Penalty for violation.
(a) Whoever violates § 903 of this title shall be liable for a civil penalty not to exceed $10,000 for the first violation, and not to exceed $50,000 for any subsequent violation.
(b) In any action brought under this section, if the court finds a violation, the court may award costs and attorneys' fees.