Safely Surrendered 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 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
- The Safely Surrendered Baby law was signed into law by
Governor Davis on September 2000 and went into effect on January
- 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
- Since the law went into effect, 20 babies have been safely
surrendered in California as of September 2002.
- 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
- 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