CASA of Arizona

Substance Exposure - pg. 9
Procedures for Removal of a Substance Exposed Newborn

According to Arizona law, initially a child may be taken into temporary custody by a peace officer or a child protective services worker if temporary custody is clearly necessary to protect the child because probable cause exists to believe that the child is either:
  • A victim or will imminently become a victim of abuse or neglect.
  • Suffering serious physical or emotional injury that can only be diagnosed by a medical doctor or psychologist.
  • Physically injured as a result of living on premises where dangerous drugs or narcotic drugs are being manufactured.
In determining if a SEN should be taken into temporary custody, the interested person, peace officer or child protective services worker may take into consideration as a mitigating factor:
  • The participation of the parent or guardian in the healthy families program.
  • The availability of reasonable services to the parent or guardian to prevent or eliminate the need for removal of the child and the effort of the parent or guardian to obtain and participate in these services.
Policy and Regulation

In an effort to address the growing problem of substance exposed newborns, a statewide initiative, under the direction of former Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, recruited a team of medical professionals and physicians to assist Child Protective Services in the creation of clear and consistent guidelines for identifying substance exposed newborns in order to provide adequate care and safety. These guidelines have been distributed to medical professionals throughout the state.

The Governor's plan called for clearer direction to CPS investigators and case managers, law enforcement officials, and mandatory professional reporters, as well as to the community, regarding the role of Child Protective Services in SEN cases.

Arizona law and CPS policy now make it clear that the primary purposes of CPS are:

  • Protect children by investigating allegations of abuse and neglect.
  • Promote the well-being of children in a permanent home.
  • Coordinate services to strengthen the family and prevent abuse or neglect.

If a child's health is demonstrably adversely affected at birth or within the first year of birth, Arizona law and CPS policy now make clear that in determining whether a child has been neglected, consideration shall be given to a parent's drug or alcohol abuse, including a mother's abuse of a dangerous drug, narcotic drug or alcohol during pregnancy if the child is demonstrably adversely affected at birth or within the first year of birth. Arizona law and CPS Policy also state that a child may be taken into temporary custody if the child has been physically injured as a result of living on premises where dangerous drugs or narcotic drugs are manufactured. The injury does not need to be physical, as neglect also qualifies as damaging to a child's health and well being.

State law A.R.S. § 13-3620 requires that a health care professional, who reasonably believes that a newborn infant may be affected by the presence of alcohol or a drug, immediately report this information to Child Protective Services. Arizona is one of only twelve states to have enacted specific reporting procedures in regards to substance exposed newborns. In general, these policies make drug exposure, or a positive drug test alone, the basis for reporting.


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