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Home > Practice Areas > Baby Abandonment > Other Links and Resources

 
 

List of Enacted State Safe Haven Legislation

CWLA Summary for Iowa

Which babies may be relinquished?
  • "Newborn Infant:" child who is, or appears to be, 14 days of age or younger.
Who may relinquish a baby?
  • Parent or person authorized by parent:
    • Voluntarily delivers child to safe haven.
      • If custody is not relinquished to an individual on duty, the parent may take other actions to insure that an on duty employee is aware of the relinquishment via phone or 911 service, etc.
    • Does not express an intent to return for the child.
  • There is a rebuttable presumption that the relinquisher is the parent or is authorized by the parent.
What are the incentives for a person to relinquish a baby at a Safe Haven?
  • Anonymity:
    • Any individual good faith effort to voluntarily relinquish the child shall be kept confidential.
    • Any person who knowingly discloses information from such record commits a misdemeanor.
  • Protection from Liability:
    • Immune from criminal prosecution for abandonment or neglect and civil liability for any reasonable acts or omissions made in good faith in assisting with the release.
Who can accept a relinquished baby?
  • Institutional Health Facility:
    • Hospital providing medical or health services that is open 24 hours per day, 7 days a week and has an emergency room.
    • Health care facility as defined by law.
What are the responsibilities of a Safe Haven?
  • Take physical custody of the child.
  • Perform reasonable acts necessary to protect the child's physical health or safety.
  • May ask for names of the child's parents or medical information regarding the parents or the child. Relinquisher is not required to provide this information.
  • Notify the Department of Human Services as soon as possible.
Is the Safe Haven protected from liability for its actions?
  • Yes: Immune from civil liability for any reasonable acts or omissions made in good faith.
Rights of the Relinquishing Parent
  • Provide Information to Relinquisher:
    • Safe haven shall give relinquisher an information card developed by the Department of Human Services, in consultation with the Iowa Department of Public Health and the Department of Justice.
    • The publication shall inform the parent of parental rights, explain the request for medical history information, and provide other information deemed pertinent by the departments.
  • Procedure to Reclaim Custody:
    • Either parent of a child who was released under this law may intervene in the court proceedings and request custody of the child.
    • The requester must show that he or she is the parent of the child.
    • The court may determine if it is in the child's best interest to grant custody of the child to the requester and may order services for both parent and child.
    • A parent may request vacation or appeal the termination of parental rights order within 30 days of the termination of parental rights.
Children's Rights
  • Medical Information:
    • Safe haven may ask for medical history information on the child and parents.
  • Identifying Information:
    • Safe haven may ask for the names of the child's parents.
Care for the Child/Placement for Adoption
  • State shall reimburse the institutional health facility for expenses in providing care to the child.
  • Department of Human Services shall assume the care, control, and custody of child.
    • Immediately notify the juvenile court and the county attorney of situation to request an ex parte order giving custody of the child to the department.
    • Within 24 hours of taking custody of child, the department shall, in writing, notify the juvenile court and the county attorney of the department's action and the circumstances surrounding the action.
  • Attorney for the County shall file a petition alleging the child is in need of assistance.
    • A hearing on this petition will be held as soon as practicable.
  • Attorney shall file a petition for termination of parental rights.
    • A hearing on this petition will be held within 30 days after the child was delivered to a safe haven, unless the court extends the time period.
    • A notice of the petition will be sent to any known parent and others in accordance with the provisions of chapter 232 and shall be served upon any putative father registered with the state registrar of vital statistics.
    • Notice by publication shall be provided.
    • Safe haven personnel shall be notified and may provide testimony at the hearing.
Fathers' Rights
  • Search Putative Father Registries:
    • Provide notice of court proceedings to any putative father registered with the state registrar of vital statistics.
  • Publish Notice:
    • Notice by publication shall be provided prior to holding a hearing to terminate parental rights.
Efficacy of Safe Havens - Public Information Campaigns
  • The Department of Human Services, in consultation with the Iowa Department of Public Health and the Department of Justice, shall develop and distribute:
    • Educational materials, public information announcements, and other resources to develop awareness of the availability of the newborn safe haven act among adolescents, young parents, and others who might avail themselves of the act.
    • Signs that may be used to identify the institutional health facilities at which a child may be relinquished.



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