In the unlikely event that a person brings a newborn child to a police station, departments should
have procedures in place. Dispatchers and station commanders should be aware of what is expected.
A call to the local office of the Department of Social Services should be made.
DSS then immediately assumes custody and is responsible for paying for medical expenses.
(In fact, MassHealth covers the child 10 days retroactivity.)
The second call should be for an ambulance. The baby should be taken immediately to the Emergency Room of a "trauma" hospital.
The person at the station receiving the baby should encourage (but may not require) the person delivering the infant to answer some questions:
- name and address of parent or other person placing the child;
- location of child's birthplace;
- info on child's medical history, if available; and
- any other info that might reasonably assist DSS or the court in current or future determinations of the best interests of the child, including whether the parent or guardian plans on returning to seek future custody of the child.
Treat all such cases as potential abuse and neglect incidents.
Fill out a 51A report and complete an investigation.
If the sole evidence is the "abandonment" at a hospital, police or fire station, no charge will be sustained.
It is up to the defendant to raise as an affirmative defense that the child was not over 7 days old when it was left at one of the designated facilities.