patient resources

Safe Surrender Baby 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 if 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 three days of birth to any hospital emergency room or other designated safe haven in California. The baby will be place in a foster or pre-adoptive home.

Fast facts

  • The Safely Surrendered Baby law was signed into law by Governor Davis in September of 2000 and went into effect on Jan. 1, 2001.
  • The purpose of the law is to allow a mother or any adult to bring an unwanted baby- three-day-old or younger-to a hospital without prosecution for child abandonment.
  • 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 medical center 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 socioeconomic groups, ages, races and ethnicity, and educational attainment levels, but 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 nonjudgmental 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 funded with a $1 million grant from First 5, formerly the California Commission on Children and Families.

For questions about our maternity services call (209) 339-7522.