BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                   Senate Appropriations Committee Fiscal Summary
                           Senator Christine Kehoe, Chair

                                           1048 (Torrico)
          Hearing Date:  08/17/2009           Amended: 07/16/2009
          Consultant:  Jacqueline Wong-HernandezPolicy Vote: Judiciary 4-1
          BILL SUMMARY: AB 1048 extends the period during which a person  
          may safely surrender a baby at designated sites as long as the  
          proper procedures under the existing Safely Surrendered Baby law  
          are followed.  Specifically, this bill:  
             1)   Allows the safe surrender of a baby up to 30 days old,  
               (rather than 72 hours). 
             2)   Permits a fire agency to designate a safe surrender  
               site, upon approval of the appropriate local governing  
             3)   Immunizes a safe surrender site from liability for a  
               surrendered child prior to taking actual physical custody  
               of the child, or prior to the time the surrender site or  
               its personnel knows, or should know, that the child has  
               been surrendered.
             4)   Require the Department of Social Services (DSS) to  
               report specified information to the Legislature by January  
               1, 2013.
                            Fiscal Impact (in thousands)

           Major Provisions             2009-10      2010-11       2011-12        
           Authorizes new sites                           $0                 
              $0                     $0              General

          Expands safe surrender eligibility      Unknown, likely very  
          minor new costs          Local*                               
          Expands mandate on CPS                Unknown, likely very  
          minor**                       General

          Requires new DSS report                                          
          $16                  $32               General

          *These costs are not reimbursable
          **Potentially reimbursable state mandate on county child  
          protective services (CPS) 



          STAFF COMMENTS: This bill may meet the criteria for referral to  
          the Suspense File.

          A safe surrender site is a designated place at which, up to 72  
          hours after being born, a baby may be surrendered anonymously  
          and without legal ramifications. The intent of creating safe  
          surrender sites is to avoid the abandonment of babies in places  
          where they may not be found and/or may suffer harm. Existing law  
          requires that every hospital in the state of California, both  
          private and public, designate a safe surrender site on its  
          premises. Because this mandate applies equally to county  
          (public) and private hospitals, it is not eligible for  
          reimbursement by the state. 

          This bill allows a local fire agency to also designate a safe  
          surrender site, with approval of the appropriate local governing  
          body of the agency, but does not require any new sites. These  
          sites, if designated by local governing bodies, would be subject  
          to the 

          Page 2
          AB 1048 (Torrico)

          same intake procedures as existing hospital safe surrender  
          sites, as well as the same notification requirements to local  
          CPS agencies.

          This bill increases the amount of time during which a baby is  
          eligible to be surrendered at a safe surrender site. Existing  
          law allows for surrender in the first 72 hours after birth.  
          Under this existing law, 280 babies have been surrendered  
          statewide in the past 8 years. During this same time period, 149  
          babies were found alive, illegally abandoned. Increasing the  
          length of eligibility to 30 days will likely result in some  
          increase of surrendered babies, but it is not clear to what  
          extent. Babies older than 72 hours can be put up for adoption or  
          otherwise turned over to local CPS agencies, and it is not  
          possible to determine how many babies would have remained in  
          their homes (instead of being turned over in another way), who  
          will now be surrendered at a safe surrender site. It is likely  
          that the same children will enter the child welfare system, but  
          through different avenues.


          Local CPS agencies are, under existing law, required to respond  
          to a notification that a baby was surrendered at a safe  
          surrender site within its jurisdiction. To the extent that this  
          bill results in additional surrenders, CPS would have to respond  
          to those cases. Research suggests that a baby is most likely to  
          be abandoned in the first 7 days, which is an increase of  
          approximately double the current time allowed.* Considering the  
          limited number of children surrendered currently, approximately  
          35 per year, doubling the amount of time may result in doubling  
          the number of abandoned babies, which is still a very small  
          number relative to CPS caseloads. If this bill resulted in 70  
          babies surrendered annually, from up to 56 counties (Alpine and  
          Sierra counties do not have safe surrender sites), it is  
          unlikely the $1,000 threshold for a reimbursable mandate will be  
          met by more than a few counties.

          This bill requires DSS to report the effects of this bill to the  
          Legislature by January 1, 2013. The report must include: (a) The  
          number of children one year of age or younger who are found  
          abandoned, dead or alive; (b) the number of infants surrendered  
          pursuant to this act, with their approximate age; (c) the number  
          of medical history questionnaires completed in those cases; (d)  
          the number of instances in which a parent or other person having  
          lawful custody seeks to reclaim custody of a surrendered child,  
          both during and after the initial period following surrender,  
          and the outcome; (e) whether a person seeking to reclaim custody  
          is the individual who surrendered the child; (f) the number of  
          children surrendered pursuant to this act who show signs of  
          neglect or abuse and the disposition of those cases; (g) the  
          number of parents or legal guardians eventually located and  
          contacted by social workers. 

          *There is very limited evidence of the likelihood of abandonment  
          at a safe surrender site between the 7th and 30th day after a  
          baby's birth. The author's office has indicated that post-partum  
          depression most often sets in during the first 30 days after the  
          birth. This can result in psychotic episodes and pose a great  
          danger to the child. It is, however, unclear if a mother  
          suffering from post-partum depression is more likely to abandon  
          her child at a safe surrender site because of the provisions of  
          this bill. There are numerous variables in behavior, and options  
          for individual mothers. 

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          AB 1048 (Torrico)

          The topic areas required for inclusion in the specified report  
          will require additional information to be gathered and tracked  
          by DSS, which it does not currently aggregate. Because of the  
          small number of surrenders in a given year, the information  
          required to be compiled and reported will be limited. The  
          estimated cost to DSS, identified on Page 1, reflects  PY in  
          additional workload.