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List of Enacted State Safe Haven Legislation

CWLA Summary for New Jersey

Which babies may be relinquished?
  • Child is or appears to be no more than 30 days old.
Who may relinquish a baby?
  • Parent must voluntarily deliver the child or voluntarily arrange for another person to deliver the child.
  • 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?
  • Protection from Liability:
    • Affirmative defense to prosecution for abandonment.
Who can accept a relinquished baby?
  • State, county or municipal police station.
  • Emergency department of a licensed general hospital.
What are the responsibilities of a Safe Haven?
  • If the safe haven is a police station, take the child to the emergency department of a licensed general hospital.
  • Hospital shall take possession of the child.
  • Take any action or provide any treatment necessary to protect the child's health and safety.
  • Notify the Division of Youth and Family Services no later than the first business day after taking possession.
Is the Safe Haven protected from liability for its actions?
  • Yes: No civil or criminal liability for good faith acts or omissions.
Children's Rights
  • Medical Information:
    • Relinquisher is not required to provide child's medical history, but may voluntarily do so.
  • Identifying Information:
    • Relinquisher is not required to provide identifying information, but may voluntarily do so.
Care for the Child/Placement for Adoption
  • Division of Youth and Family Services shall assume the care, custody, and control of the child immediately after receiving notice.
  • Search listings of missing children to insure that the child has not been reported missing.
  • Child shall be treated as a child taken into possession without a court order.
  • File for termination of parental rights no later than 21 days after assuming care, custody and control of the child.
    • The division shall initiate a petition to terminate parental rights on the ground that the "parent has abandoned the child" pursuant to existing law.
  • Not required to attempt to reunify the child with his/her parents.
  • Not required to search for relatives as a placement option, or to implement other placement requirements that give preference to relatives if the division does not have identifying information about the child or parents.
  • Place the child with potential adoptive parents as soon as possible.
Efficacy of Safe Havens - Public Information Campaigns
  • Commissioner of Human Services shall establish an educational and public information program to:
    • Promote safe placement alternatives for children.
    • Discuss the confidentiality offered to birth parents.
    • Provide information about adoption procedures.
  • Establish 24-hour, toll free hotline to make information widely available.
  • Provide hospitals and police stations with information about social service agencies that may be available to a person voluntarily delivering a child.
  • $500,000 of the General Fund to the Department of Human Services is appropriated to establish the educational program and hotline.
Long-Term Solutions
  • Collect Data on Relinquishment:
    • Commissioner of Human Services shall report to the Governor and Legislature no later than 2 years after the law becomes effective about the effects of the program and any recommendations the commissioner may have.
  • Amends P.L.1991, c.275 and supplements Title 30 of the Revised Statutes.

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