The State of Arizona places a high priority on child safety and the integrity of the family. Arizona defines abandonment by statute, has set up mandatory reporting requirements, and has a department to investigate complaints. While state officials make every effort to protect Arizona children from abandonment, it also provides all services possible to allow parents and children to stay together.
Abandonment of a child is defined in Arizona Revised Statute Section 8-201(1) as failing to supervise or support a child with the intent to allow that neglect to go on for an indefinite time. If this form of neglect continues for a period of six months the statute presumes the parent has abandoned the child. (See Reference 1.) Arizona Revised Statute Sections 13-3619 and 13-3623 to provide that abandonment can be construed as a criminal offense, ranging from a class 1 misdemeanor to a class 2 felony, depending upon such factors as the risk to the child and whether or not the abandonment was intentional. Penalties range from a fine of $2,500 and 6 months in prison for a class 1 misdemeanor conviction, all the way up to 12.5 years in prison for a "non-dangerous" class 2 felony. (See Reference 2.)
Arizona Revised Statute Section 13-3620 requires certain people to report abuse or neglect, and neglect is defined as abandonment under Section 8-201. Those required to report abandonment include health care professionals, peace officers, school personnel, and parents, stepparents, and guardians. If the child is 14 or older and does not want parental care there is no requirement to report abandonment. (See Reference 3.)
The Arizona Division of Children, Youth and Families, Department of Child Protective Services has the responsibility to respond to reports of child abandonment. If Child Protective Services receives a credible complaint of child abandonment it will institute an investigation. The department has two priorities in resolving these complaints. The first it to ensure the safety of the child, and the second is to keep the family intact. Whenever possible Arizona Child Protective Services will help the family receive the services they need to stay together and provide adequate care for the child. (See Reference 4.)