What is Safe Surrender?
A birth parent or person with “lawful custody” may voluntarily and anonymously surrender a baby within 72-hours of birth to an on-duty person at a hospital or on-duty personnel at a designated safe surrender site without being prosecuted for failure to provide and/or abandonment.
Health & Safety Code § 1255.7(a)
- Person with “lawful custody” is a person who, in good faith accepts a baby from the person believed to be the birth parent with the specific intent and promise of safe surrender.
Health & Safety Code § 1255.7(j)
- The surrender of the baby is voluntary and anonymous. The person or entity receiving the baby may not request or record identifying information as to the parents.
Health & Safety Code § 1255.7 (d)(2);
All County Information Notice 1-88-10 p. 2;
- The act of surrendering the baby does not have to be stated verbally to the safe surrender site personnel receiving the baby. ACIN 1-88-10 p.3
- The birth parent surrendering the baby is protected from prosecution for failure to provide and/or abandonment.
Medical Information Questionaire
- On duty surrender site personnel are to make a good faith effort to provide the parent or other individual surrendering the baby a medical information questionnaire that may be refused, voluntarily filled out and left at the site when the baby is surrendered or filled out later and returned in an envelope provided. Health & Safety Code § 1255.7 (b)(3)
- This medical information questionnaire shall not require or request any identifying information about the child or the parent or the individual surrendering the child except the unique identification code provided in the ankle bracelet placed on the child.
Identities Of The Birth Parents Are To Be And To Remain Anonymous
- Any personal identifying information that pertains to a parent or individual who surrenders a child that is obtained pursuant to the medical information questionnaire is confidential and shall be exempt from disclosure by child protective services and shall not be disclosed by any personnel of a safe-surrender site. Health & Safety Code § 1255.7 (d)(2) and (k)
- Personal identifying information that pertains to a parent or individual who surrenders a child shall be redacted from any medical information provided to child protective services. Health & Safety Code § 1255.7 (d)(2)
- As soon as possible child protective services shall report all known identifying information as to the child but not any personal identifying information pertaining to the parent or individual who surrendered the child to the Missing Children Clearing House and the National Crime Information Center. Health & Safety Code § 1255.7 (g)
- If a baby is surrendered after a hospital birth, the names of the birth mother and father must be redacted from any information provided by the hospital to child protective services. ACIN 1-88-10 p.2
- In order to maintain the confidentiality of the surrendering individual, a safely surrendered baby is issued a Certificate of Finding of Unknown Child or Safely Surrendered Baby rather than a birth certificate. ACIN 1-88-10 p.5
- If a birth certificate has been issued in error, it must be sealed and a Certificate of Finding of Unknown Child or Safely Surrendered Baby issued in its place. ACIN 1-88-10 p.5
- The name of the parent or surrendering individual must remain anonymous and should be entered into the child protective services CWS/CMS system as “mother unknown” and “father unknown”. The name of the baby should be entered anonymously, such a Doe, Baby Girl or Doe, Baby Boy. ACIN 1-88-10 p.5-6.
Care Of The Baby
- Safe surrender personnel shall ensure that a medical screening examination and any necessary medical care is provided to the baby. The consent of a parent or other relative is not required. Health & Safety Code 1255.7 (c)
Custody Of The Baby
- Within 48 hours the safe surrender personnel notify child protective services and within 24 hours after assuming temporary custody a petition is filed to bring the baby under the protection of the court. Health & Safety Code § 1255.7 (e)
Safely Surrendering Parent Has 14 Days To Reclaim The Baby
- The on-duty safe site personnel makes a good faith effort to provide to the parent, or other person surrendering the baby, a confidentially coded bracelet matching the ID bracelet placed on the baby’s ankle. Health & Safety Code § 1255.7 (c)
- If the baby is still at the safe surrender site and the parent or person who surrendered the baby requests return, site personnel shall either return the baby or, if site personnel know or reasonable suspect the baby has been the victim of abuse or neglect, contact the child protective agency. Health & Safety Code §1255.7 ((f)
- If the baby has been picked up by child protective services, the parent or person who surrendered is to go to the child welfare agency that has custody and present their uniquely coded ID bracelet. The agency, upon verifying the identity of the person and assessing that person’s capacity to care for the baby, will release the baby and dismiss the dependency petition that was filed.
Health & Safety Code § 1255.7 (g)
- The voluntary safe surrender of a baby is not in and of itself a sufficient basis for reporting child abuse or neglect. Health & Safety Code § 1255.7 (f)
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