Safe Haven Laws

If you have a newborn baby and believe you cannot take care of him/her, you can drop him/her off at a health care facility under Iowa’s Safe Haven Law – NO QUESTIONS ASKED.


As long as you turn the baby over to an approved health care facility and let a person on duty know that the infant is there, you cannot be charged with abandonment. You are not required to provide any personal information about yourself or the history of the infant.

Here is the information from the State of Iowa Department of Health website:


Safe Haven for Newborns: Overview of the Safe Haven Act

The State of Iowa has joined 30 other states in creating Safe Havens for infants.

What is the Safe Haven Act?

The Safe Haven Act is a law that allows parents – or another person who has the parent’s authorization – to leave an infant up to 14 days old at a hospital or health care facility without fear of prosecution for abandonment.

Who is a Safe Haven?

A Safe Haven is an institutional health facility – such as a hospital or health care facility. According to the law, an “institutional health facility” means:

  • A “hospital” as defined in Iowa Code section 135B.1, including a facility providing medical or health services that is open twenty-four hours per day, seven days per week and is a hospital emergency room, or
  • A “health care facility” as defined in Iowa Code section 135C.1 means a residential care facility, a nursing facility, an intermediate care facility for persons with mental illness, or an intermediate care facility for persons with mental retardation.

Requirements for Safe Haven Facilities

Hospitals and health care facilities are encouraged to prominently display the Safe Haven logo.

Hospitals or health care facilities:

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May

Must

Ask for, but cannot require:

• The name of the parent or parents.

• Medical history of the infant.

• Medical history of the infant’s parents.

 

Perform reasonable acts to protect the physical health and safety of the infant with immunity from criminal or civil liability or omissions made in good faith.

 

Testify at any court hearing held concerning the infant.

Notify the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) as soon as possible by calling 1-800-362-2178 that physical custody of an infant has been taken under the Safe Haven Act. DHS will make the necessary court and legal contacts and assume care, control and custody of the child.

 

Submit the certificate of birth report as required in Iowa Code section 144.14.

 

Keep confidential any information received or recorded in connection with a good faith effort to voluntarily release an infant under the Safe Haven Act except as outlined in 2001 Iowa Acts, SF 355.Failure to keep information confidential is a serious misdemeanor.


Requirements for Parents

A parent – or another person authorized by the parent to relinquish physical custody of an infant:

May

Must

Directly relinquish custody of an infant to an individual on duty at:

• A hospital,

• A residential care facility,

• A nursing facility,

• An intermediate care facility for persons with mental illness, or

• An intermediate care facility for persons with mental retardation.

 

Leave the infant at a hospital or health care facility and immediately contact the facility or call a 911 service to be sure that:

• An individual on duty is aware of the location of the infant

• The facility knows an infant has been left there under provisions of the Safe Haven Act.

 

Be required to provide identifying information.

Be charged with abandonment.


Immunity

2001 Iowa Acts, SF 355 provides immunity from prosecution for abandonment for a parent – or a person acting with the parent’s authorization – who leaves an infant at a hospital or health care facility.

The Safe Haven Act provides immunity from civil or criminal liability for hospitals, health care facilities, and persons employed by those facilities that perform reasonable acts necessary to protect the physical health and safety of the infant.


Information Resources

The following printable information is available:

Publication Links Recommended Use
Safe Haven Logo For Hospitals and Health Care Facilities to:
– Print in color and laminate if possible
– Prominently display in public areas
Information for Hospitals and Health Care Facilities For Hospitals and Health Care Facilities to:
– Print and places in a prominent location for employee access
– Include in procedure manuals
For Hospitals and Health Care Facilities to:
– Print and give to a parent or authorized person leaving an infant at a Safe Haven
– Include in procedure manuals
Information for Parents For Iowa Department of Human Services offices to:
– Include in procedure manuals
Department of Human Services Responsibilities For Iowa Department of Human Services Offices to:
– Print and place in a prominent location for employee access
– Include in procedure manuals
Community Education Information Materials are still being developed

http://www.dhs.state.ia.us/Consumers/Safety_and_Protection/Safe_Haven.html 


More Information

You can get more information by reading the Safe Haven Act.

http://www.legis.state.ia.us/GA/79GA/Legislation/index.html

 

The Safe Haven Law was signed into law April 24, 2001.