Know the Law: Safely Surrendered Baby Program

The Safely Surrendered Baby Law responds to the increasing number of newborn infant deaths due to abandonment in unsafe locations. First created in January 2001, the Safely Surrendered Baby Law was signed permanently into state law in January 2006. The law’s intent is to save the 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 birth, with no questions asked.

The Safely Surrendered Baby law (California Health and Safety Code, section 1255.7) provides a safe alternative for the surrender of a newborn baby in specified circumstances. Under the Safely Surrendered Baby law, a parent or person with lawful custody can safely surrender a baby confidentially and without fear of prosecution within 72 hours of birth.

The Safely Surrendered Baby law requires the baby to be taken to a public or private hospital, designated fire station, or other safe surrender sites, as determined by the local County Board of Supervisors. No questions will be asked, and California Penal Code Section 271.5 protects surrendering individuals from prosecution of abandonment.

The Process At the time of surrender, a bracelet is placed on the baby for identification purposes, and a matching bracelet is provided to the parent or lawful guardian in case the baby is reclaimed. A parent or person with lawful custody has up to 14 days from the time of surrender to reclaim their baby.

A medical questionnaire must be offered. However, it is a voluntary document and can be declined. The questionnaire is offered solely for the purpose of collecting medical information critical to the health and survival of the infant. All identifying information that pertains to a parent or individual who surrenders a child is strictly confidential.

All Fullerton Fire Stations participate in the Safe Surrender Baby program.