Safe Place for Newborns Act – Georgia’s “Safe Haven” Law
O.C.G.A. §§ 19-10A-1 through 19-10A-8
As required by Georgia law, only state employees who currently work for the Georgia Department of Human Services, which includes the Division of Family and Children Services, are allowed to take custody of a “Safe Haven” baby left at a medical facility, fire station, or police station.
No staff or volunteers from another federal or state agency, non-profit entity, for-profit company, or person are allowed to pick up a “Safe Haven” baby from a medical facility, fire station, or police station.
Under the Safe Place for Newborns Act, Georgia law gives criminal immunity to a mother who leaves her baby with a staff member or volunteer of a medical facility, fire station, or police station if the child is no more than thirty days old. The mother is not required to show proof of her identity or address. The Safe Place for Newborns Act is often called Georgia’s “Safe Haven Law.”
Once a baby is given to an on-duty staff member or volunteer at a medical facility, police station, or fire station, that staff member or volunteer is required to immediately notify the Department of Human Services’ (DHS) Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS). If the facility or station incurs costs, including medical costs, to care for the baby, DHS DFCS will reimburse those costs. Those staff and volunteers are required to notify DHS DFCS when the baby is ready for pick-up or medical discharge.
When a staff member or volunteer receives a “Safe Haven” baby, they must immediately call Georgia’s 24/7, toll-free child protective services hotline at 1-855-GACHILD (+1 855-422-4453). They must call the hotline again when the baby is ready for pick-up or medical discharge. Upon arrival at the facility or station, DHS DFCS staff will provide photo identification verifying their employment before they take the baby into the State’s custody.
Please immediately call 1-855-422-4453 to report any instances where an individual or entity has previously claimed, or is currently claiming, to be acting on the State’s behalf to take a “Safe Haven” or “abandoned” baby from a medical facility, fire station, or police station.
Abandoned Babies in Georgia
If a newborn child is legally “abandoned” by his or her biological family, a superior court, juvenile court, or probate court must be involved to investigate the child’s circumstances and decide whether it is appropriate to order:
- temporary guardianship to a caregiver;
- custody to the State of Georgia through DHS DFCS; or
- custody to a caregiver.
If a child is “abandoned,” there must be a valid court order giving authority to a specific person or DHS DFCS to take care of that child. If a person comes to your facility or station claiming that they have authority to take the child, you should always take reasonable steps to assess the child’s safety. If you have questions, please immediately call 1-855-422-4453 for assistance.
“Safe Haven” Training
The State of Georgia does not require “Safe Haven” training for employees of medical facilities, fire stations, or police stations.