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List of Enacted State Safe Haven Legislation

CWLA Summary for California

Which babies may be relinquished?
  • Child must be less than 72 hours old.
Who may relinquish a baby?
  • Parent or other person having lawful custody:
    • Must voluntarily surrender custody of the child to safe haven personnel.
What are the incentives for a person to relinquish a baby at a Safe Haven?
  • Protection from Liability:
    • Immune from prosecution.
Who can accept a relinquished baby?
  • Any employee on duty at:
    • A public or private hospital emergency room;
    • Any additional location designated by the board of supervisors.
What are the responsibilities of a Safe Haven?
  • Designate employees required to take custody of relinquished children.
  • Take physical custody.
  • Provide medical screening examination and any necessary medical care.
    • Consent of parent or relative is not required.
  • Provide relinquisher with a medical information questionnaire.
  • Place a coded identification ankle bracelet on the child, and attempt to give relinquisher a copy.
  • Notify child protective services or county agency providing child welfare services.
    • As soon as possible but in no event later than 48 hours after taking custody of the child.
Is the Safe Haven protected from liability for its actions?
  • Yes: No person or entity that accepts a surrendered child shall be subject to civil, criminal, or administrative liability for good faith acts.
Rights of the Relinquishing Parent
  • Procedure to Reclaim Custody:
    • Unique, coded, confidential ankle bracelets facilitate reclamation of the child.
    • If the person who surrendered custody requests return of the child while it is still in the custody of the hospital, the hospital shall return the child.
      • Unless the hospital suspects abuse or neglect other than surrendering the baby.
    • Person who surrendered the child may reclaim custody within 14 days of the surrender.
      • Child welfare agency shall verify the identity of the person, conduct an assessment of the person's circumstances and ability to parent, and request that the juvenile court dismiss the petition for dependency and order release of the child, if none of the conditions described in Section 319 exist.
    • Child qualifies to be adjudged a dependent child of the court if not reclaimed within 14 days.
Children's Rights
  • Medical Information:
    • Safe haven shall provide relinquisher with a medical information questionnaire.
      • May be declined, voluntarily filled out and returned, or later filled out and mailed in the envelope provided for this purpose.
      • Not require any identifying information.
      • Begin with a notice that family medical history is important for the baby's healthy future.
Care for the Child/Placement for Adoption
  • Hospital takes physical custody of the child.
  • Child protective services or the county agency shall:
    • assume temporary custody of the child immediately upon receipt of notice from safe haven;
    • immediately investigate the circumstances of the case and file a petition to have the child judged a dependent of the court;
    • immediately notify the State Department of Social Services.
  • Relinquishment is one situation that places a child within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court.
  • State Department of Social Services shall instruct counties as to the process to be used to ensure that each child is determined to be eligible for Medi-Cal benefits for a specified period of time.
  • Rule requiring social worker to release custody to parent or family member does not apply if the child has been relinquished and the parent has not reclaimed the child within the 14-day period.
  • Rule specifying services for a child, the child's mother, and statutorily presumed father or guardians does not apply to relinquished children.
  • Reunification services need not be provided to parents or relinquished children (includes notification of termination of parental rights) unless the court finds that reunification is in the best interest of the child.
Long-Term Solutions
  • Repeal Date: January 1, 2006.
  • Collect Data on Relinquishment:
    • State Department of Social Services shall file reports with the Legislature regarding the effect of the bill on January 1, 2003, January 1, 2004, and January 1, 2005. Reports shall include:
      • Number of children one year old or younger who are found abandoned, dead or alive.
      • Number of infants surrendered to safe havens, with their approximate age.
      • Number of medical history questionnaires completed in those cases.
      • Number of instances in which a parent or other person having lawful custody seeks to reclaim custody of a surrendered child, during and after the 14-day period, and the outcome of those cases.
      • Whether a person seeking to reclaim custody is the individual who surrendered the child.
      • Number of relinquished children who show signs of neglect or abuse and the disposition of those cases.
      • Number of parents or legal guardians eventually located and contacted by social workers.
  • Adds and repeals Section 1255.7 of the Health and Safety Code, Section 271.5 of the Penal Code, Sections 300, 309, 361.5 and 14005.24 of the Welfare and Institutions Code.
  • State Constitution requires state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state
    • If Commission on State Mandates determines that the bill contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement for those costs shall be made pursuant to these statutory provisions

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