Amendments to Oklahoma Statute on Reporting Requirements for Substance Exposed Newborns

Why was this changed?

On July 22, 2016 the President signed into law Public Law 114-198, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) of 2016. This law amended certain sections of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA). CAPTA is the key federal legislation that provides guidance and funding to state child welfare agencies in support of prevention, assessment, investigation, prosecution and treatment activities. Previous to CARA, states were required by CAPTA to have policies and procedures relating to “infants born and identified as being affected by illegal substance abuse or withdrawal symptoms resulting from prenatal drug exposure.” In 2010, the provision was amended by Congress to also include infants affected by Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. The 2016 CARA required that states remove the term “illegal” as applied to substance abuse affecting infants and to specifically require that plans of safe care address the needs of both infants and their families or caretakers. As a result, Oklahoma State Statute had to be amended in order to come into compliance with federal law. HB 3104 was signed by the governor on May 8, 2018 and took immediate effect.

What was changed?

In the previous Oklahoma statute, the definition of “Drug-endangered child” included the sentence, “The term also includes newborns who test positive for a controlled dangerous substance, with the exception of those substances administered under the care of a physician.” That sentence has been removed from the definition, removing the exception. Newborns who test positive for a controlled dangerous substance (see lists here – Title 63, Chapter 2, Article 2) should be reported to the Department of Human Services, regardless of if the substance had been prescribed to mother. Infants who are diagnosed with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome or Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder should also be reported.

Who should report an infant that tests positive?

The description of who should report has been broadened. With amendments (strikethrough has been removed, underlined has been added), the following description is included: “Every physician, surgeon, or other health care professional including doctors of medicine, licensed osteopathic physicians, residents and interns, or any other health care professional attending the birth of a child who or midwife involved in the prenatal care of expectant mothers or the delivery or care of infants shall promptly report to the Department instances in which an infant tests positive for alcohol or a controlled dangerous substance shall promptly report the matter to the Department. This shall include infants who are diagnosed with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome or Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.”

Read the entire Enrolled HB3104 to view all revisions.

Documentation in the Hospital

Providing a thorough discharge summary for a newborn who has tested positive is of utmost importance. Including details on follow-up appointments and treatment plans in the discharge instructions will greatly assist in the follow-up of these cases.

How does one make a report?

The preferred method of reporting is by calling the Department of Human Services’ Statewide 24-hour Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-522-3511. Only one member of the team caring for the infant needs to report. The following information will be asked:

  • The names, addresses, ages and whereabouts of the child and the child’s parents, or other persons responsible for the child’s welfare, such as at the school, work, daycare, or hospital;
  • Information pertaining to support systems for the family, other individuals who may be aware of the abuse or neglect, or any safety-related issues child welfare may need to be aware of prior to making contact with the family, such as domestic violence, presence of weapons, or use of illegal substances;
  • The nature and extent of the abuse or neglect;
  • Any historical information on the family related to the safety and well-being of the children and their parents or other identified caretakers; and
  • Any other information that might be helpful in establishing the cause of the injuries and the identity of the person responsible.

Download form to help organize information to be reported

If a reporter does not have all of the information listed above, he or she should go ahead and report the details of what is known concerning the suspicion of abuse or neglect.

Download the OKDHS guide to reporting child abuse

Download the OKDHS Hotline Referral Form