Plans of Safe Care Infants With Prenatal Substance Exposure and Their Families - New Jersey

Date:

Definitions

Citation: Admin. Code § 3A:26-1.2

The following words and terms, when used in this chapter, shall have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

  • 'Division' means the Division of Child Protection and Permanency in the Department of Children and Families.
  • 'Substance-affected infant' means the following:
    • An infant whose mother had a positive toxicology screen for a controlled substance or metabolite thereof during pregnancy or at the time of delivery
    • An infant who has a positive toxicology screen for a controlled substance after birth that is reasonably attributable to maternal substance use during pregnancy
    • An infant who displays the effects of prenatal controlled substance exposure or symptoms of withdrawal resulting from prenatal controlled substance exposure
    • An infant who displays the effects of a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD)

Notification/Reporting Requirements

Citation: Admin. Code §§ 3A:26-1.1; 3A:26-1.3

The Division of Child Protection and Permanency shall receive reports of substance-affected infants that ambulatory care facilities submit pursuant to Admin. Code § 8:43A-28.7 and that hospitals submit pursuant to § 8:43G-2.13.

Upon receipt of a report, the division shall first determine if the report is an allegation of child abuse or neglect pursuant to Ann. Stat. § 9:6-1, et seq., and if a determination that a report is an allegation of child abuse or neglect, respond in accordance with applicable law, including § 3A:10.

For reports that are determined not to be allegations of child abuse or neglect, the division representative shall offer services to the parent of each substance-affected infant on a voluntary basis. If the parent accepts, the division shall provide the services.

All reports made pursuant to this chapter shall be considered child abuse investigative records and treated as confidential.

Reports must include the following information:

  • The name of the substance-affected infant, if known
  • The names of the substance-affected infant's mother and father, if known
  • The home addresses of the substance-affected infant's mother and father, if known
  • The types of substances affecting the substance-affected infant and the harm, if any, caused to the substance-affected infant resulting from his or her exposure to the substances
  • Circumstances known to the reporter that would affect an evaluation of the situation, including, but not limited to, awareness of medications prescribed to the mother of the substance-affected infant

Assessment of the Infant and Family

Citation: DCF Pol. Man. # CPP-II-C-2-800; CPP-II-B-1-900

The division caseworker shall initiate an investigation or child welfare assessment prior to the child's discharge from the hospital and develop an initial service plan that includes the caseworker's next contact with the parent(s). Prior to completing the investigation or child welfare assessment, the caseworker shall determine if substance use may be a presenting problem and pose a risk to the safety and well-being of the child. If so, the caseworker shall engage the mother in completing a substance use evaluation. The child's father or household members in a caregiving role suspected of substance use may pose a risk to the safety and well-being of the child, therefore the caseworker shall ensure that a substance use evaluation is completed for those persons.

Each referral of a newborn that alleges substance use disorder by the parent is assessed if there is reason to believe that either the child is at risk of being harmed or there are other circumstances that may warrant division involvement. A caseworker must complete an in-person assessment. The purpose of the assessment is to do the following:

  • Assess harm or risk to the newborn, as follows:
    • Is the newborn infant exhibiting symptoms or signs of drug/alcohol exposure?
    • Has the newborn infant tested positive for drugs/alcohol?
  • Determine the nature, history, and severity of the parent's substance use
  • Determine the effects of the parent's substance use on the parent's functioning and ability to parent and provide protection and care to the child
  • Determine other supports available, including persons willing and able to care for the infant
  • Assess the necessity for services and determine what actions must be taken by the parent, the division, or others to ensure that the newborn infant receives appropriate care

Responsibility for Development of the Plan of Safe Care

Citation: DCF Pol. Man. # CPP-II-C-2-800; CPP-II-B-1-900

The division caseworker shall complete a multidisciplinary case conference prior to concluding the investigation or child welfare assessment. The multidisciplinary case conference shall strengthen families through engagement and teaming with early childhood and family support partners by decreasing risk factors and increasing protective factors.

All substance-affected newborns referred shall have a plan of safe care (POSC) developed by the caseworker with the family. The POSC shall ensure the following:

  • The parent(s) or resource parent(s), if applicable, understand safe sleep, car seat safety, how to respond when a baby cries, and safe storage of medications.
  • The newborn, parent(s), and resource parent(s), if applicable, are referred for services and supports that reduce risk factors and increase protective factors.

Services for the Infant

Citation: DCF Pol. Man. # CPP-II-C-2-800

A family agreement shall include the services the infant is referred to and the supports that reduce the risk factors and increase protective factors. Examples of these services include early intervention services, Help Me Grow NJ, health care, home visiting, and child care.

Services for the Parents or Other Caregivers

Citation: DCF Pol. Man. # CPP-II-C-2-800

A family agreement shall include the services the parent(s) are referred and the supports that reduce the risk factors and increase protective factors. Examples of these services include substance use treatment, social services, housing, health care, home visiting, child care, parenting support and education, family success centers, Parents Anonymous, and others identified by the parent(s) and the team. The POSC also documents the resources, services, and supports needed to ensure the safety, permanency, and well-being of the child, family, and resource parent(s), if applicable.

Monitoring Plans of Safe Care

This issue is not addressed in the statutes and regulations reviewed.