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List of Enacted State Safe Haven Legislation

CWLA Summary for Missouri

Which babies may be relinquished?
  • Child 30 days old or younger.
  • Child must be unharmed.
Who may relinquish a baby?
  • Parent:
    • Does not express an intent to return for the child.
What are the incentives for a person to relinquish a baby at a Safe Haven?
  • Anonymity:
    • Parent has the right to remain anonymous.
  • Protection from Liability:
    • Will not be prosecuted for charges of criminal abandonment or endangering the welfare of a child 5-day-old or younger if child is delivered safely.
    • Affirmative defense to criminal abandonment or endangering the welfare of a child 6 -30 days old if the child is delivered safely.
Who can accept a relinquished baby?
  • Law enforcement officer on duty
  • Emergency medical technician on duty
  • Hospital staff member on duty
  • A firefighter on duty
What are the responsibilities of a Safe Haven?
  • Receive the child.
  • If delivery of a child is made to a place other than a hospital licensed under Chapter 197, RSMo, person taking custody must immediately take child to a hospital (hospital will notify the Division of Family Services (DFS) and local juvenile).
Is the Safe Haven protected from liability for its actions?
  • Yes: Immune from civil, criminal, and administrative liability for good faith acts.
Rights of the Relinquishing Parent
  • Parent has 30 days to establish paternity after public notice has been established by juvenile officer.
Care for the Child/Placement for Adoption
  • Local hospital will treat the child if necessary.
  • Juvenile officer will immediately begin protective custody proceedings requesting child be made a ward of the state.
  • After child is discharged from hospital, Juvenile officer will issue a protective custody order, which orders custody of the child to the Division.
  • DFS will take physical custody of the child.
  • The Juvenile officer must make public notice that a child has been relinquished and include:
    • sex of the child
    • date and location of relinquishment
  • Juvenile officer is required to examine the Putative Father Registry contained in Section 192.016 to determine if attempts have been made to preserve parental rights.
    • If attempts had been made, the Juvenile officer is required to make reasonable efforts to inform child's putative father of abandonment.
  • 30 days after the public notice is filed and the relinquishing parent and/or non-relinquishing parent have not taken necessary steps to establish parentage his or her paternal rights will be terminated.
Efficacy of Safe Haven-Public Information
  • The Division of Family Services (DFS) is required to provide information to the public concerning provisions contained in the bill. DFS responds to the Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline 1-800-392-3738.



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