Woman Holding Her Newborn

Safely Surrendered Baby Law

A confidential safe haven for newborns in Simi Valley

In California, the Safely Surrendered Baby Law allows an individual to surrender a baby less than 72 hours old with no fear of arrest or prosecution, provided the baby has not been abused or neglected. The law does not require that names be given when the baby is surrendered.

The intent of this law is to save lives of newborn infants at risk of abandonments by encouraging parent or persons with lawful custody to safely surrender the infant within 72 hours of birth, with no questions asked.

Fast facts

  • The Safely Surrendered Baby Law was signed into law by Governor Gray Davis on September 2000 and went into effect on January 1, 2001.
  • The law’s intent is to save lives of newborn infants at risk of abandonment by encouraging parents or persons with lawful custody to safely surrender the infant within 72 hours of the birth with, no questions asked. 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.
  • From January 1, 2001, to December 31, 2015, 770 newborns have been surrendered in California, and 74 newborns were surrendered during the 2016 calendar year. Available data indicates a generally decreasing trend of abandonments since the enactment of the law, a decrease of at least 80 percent from 2002 to 2010.
  • There is no profile of women most likely to abandon their infants. The cases of abandonment show women of all socioeconomic groups, ages, race and ethnicity, and educational attainment levels.
  • Currently all 50 states have passed "safe haven" laws, varying between age limit, persons who may surrender a child and circumstances required to relinquish and infant.
  • 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 was expanded to include television and was funded with a $1 million grant from "First Five," formerly the California Commission on Children and Families.

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