SALT LAKE, Utah (ABC4 Utah) -- Many people are still reacting to the case of a 3-year-old boy left at a corn maze. His parents didn't realize their son was missing until 12 hours later.
Thankfully a good Samaritan saw the crying boy wandering about and called authorities. But who took care of the boy overnight?
In most cases, police hand the child over to the Department of Child and Family Services under the Utah Department of Human Services. While the agency can't comment on the specifics of the case, they can explain what happens when they receive a child and how they take care of them until the situation is resolved.
Police say the parents left their 3-year-old boy at the Crazy Corn Maze in West Jordan Monday night around 7:30 p.m.
"We assess for safety and the immediacy of the child," said Ashley Sumner with Child and Family Services.
The younger the child the higher the priority.
"Has this person been reported missing and what we can garner from the child?"
But information was hard to come by Monday night.
"He couldn't tell us his name, he could say he was three years old is about it," said Sgt. Joe Monson with West Jordan Police Department.
DCFS first tries to connect the child with a known caregiver or family member. When that is not an option case workers turn to emergency shelters.
"It's like a house, they get pajamas and toothbrushes and teddy bears in an effort to make them comfortable in a traumatic time in their lives."
The next morning,12 hours later, police got a break when the boy's mother called police just after 7:30 Tuesday morning.
"She said she believed she might have left him at the corn maze there," said Sgt. Monson.
Police went to the home and discovered multiple families living under one roof with 10 children in the home.
DCFS stays involved well after the case has been investigated. They need reassurances the family has a safety plan in place so this doesn't happen again. Police are still investigating to determine if charges will be placed against the parents.
The child is safe and sound. Police don't know who the good Samaritan was, but say without that person we could be reporting on a much different situation.
DCFS wants to remind families:
There are several resources to help parents in crisis.
- First, for newborns 1-3 days old, there is the Safe Haven Law where a parent can drop their child off at a hospital, no questions asked, no repercussions.
- For children 0-11, there are free, 24-7 crisis nurseries throughout the state where parents can leave their children safely for up to 24 hours: http://www.familysupportcenter.org/crisis-nursery/
- Parents can also call the 24-7 mobile crisis hotline for emergency help with behavioral issues at 801-587-3000.
- Finally, if there is a need for longer term support, we ask that parents call our 24-7 intake line at 855-323-3237 where they can speak to a trained social worker who can help the family identify necessary resources and determine whether or not further intervention is necessary.
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