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Safe Baby Surrender Law

A Confidential Safe Haven For Newborns

In California, the Safely Surrendered Baby Law allows an individual to give up an unwanted infant with no fear of arrest or prosecution for abandonment as long as the baby has not been abused or neglected. The law does not require that names be given when the baby is surrendered.

Parents are permitted to bring a baby within 3 days of birth to any hospital emergency room or other designated safe haven in California. The baby will be placed in a foster or pre-adoptive home.

Fast Facts

  • The Safely Surrendered Baby law went into effect on January 1, 2001.
  • The purpose of the law is to allow a mother or any adult to bring an unwanted baby three days old or younger to a hospital without prosecution for child abandonment. No names are required.
  • The law allows a 14-day cooling off period during which the mother may change her mind and reclaim her baby.
  • Babies who are safely surrendered at a hospital are given medical treatment and placed in a foster home or pre-adoptive home.
  • There is no profile of women most likely to abandon their infants. The cases of abandonment show women of all socio-economic groups, ages, race and ethnicity, and educational attainment levels. The target audience for this campaign is females 14 to 38 years of age.
  • Forty-one other states have passed "safe haven" laws. However, most of those states did not earmark funds for a public awareness campaign and are not engaged in any direct outreach to the target audience.
  • California selected the campaign used by the State of New Jersey called "No Shame, No Blame, No Names." California chose this campaign because of its comprehensive approach and non-judgmental message.
  • The initial campaign uses $500,000 from the California Department of Social Services' Child Abuse Prevention program, which has a budget of $19.9 million.
  • The second phase of the campaign will be expanded to include television and will be funded with a $1 million grant from "First Five," formerly the California Commission on Children and Families.

More Information

Q & A Brochure (PDF file requires Adobe Acrobat)
Radio Ad (MP3 file)