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The Safely Surrendered Baby law allows a parent or other person with lawful custody to surrender a baby 72 hours or younger confidentially, without fear of arrest or prosecution for child abandonment. The Safely Surrendered Baby law allows for at least a 14-day reclaiming period, which begins the day the child is voluntarily surrendered. During this period, the person who surrendered the baby can return to the hospital or fire station and reclaim the baby.

A parent or guardian, having lawful custody who is unable or unwilling to care for an infant can legally and confidentially surrender a baby 72 hours or younger to any designated fire station or hospital with an emergency room  in California. A coded and confidential bracelet will be placed on the baby for identification to facilitate reclaiming. A matching bracelet will be offered to the person surrendering the baby. A baby can be safely surrendered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Although the State of California currently does not require a standardized format, each pair of ID bracelets must display a matching, unique, coded ID number. Any combination of letters and numbers is acceptable as long as the pair of bracelets are identical with the same code.

The general process described by law is that any personnel on duty at a Safe Surrender Site shall accept physical custody of a minor child 72 hours old or younger and then do the following:

1. Place a coded confidential bracelet on the child.

2. Provide, or make a good faith effort to provide, to the parent or other individual surrendering the child, a copy of a unique, coded, confidential ankle bracelet identification in order to facilitate reclaiming the child.

3. Provide, or make a good faith effort to provide, to the parent or other individual surrendering the child a medical information form questionnaire. (The medical information questionnaire may be declined, or later filled out and mailed in the envelope provided.)

4. Personnel of a safe surrender site that has physical custody of the minor child shall ensure that a medical screening examination and any necessary medical care is provided to the minor child.

5. As soon as possible, but in no event later than 48 hours after the physical custody of the minor child has been accepted, personnel of the safe surrender site that has physical custody of the child shall notify child protective services or a county agency providing child welfare services.

    • In Los Angeles County, personnel can contact the Department of Children and Family Services.
    • Outside of Los Angeles County, personnel who does not have the number to their child welfare services agency can contact the Safe Surrender Hotline at 1-877-222-9723. It is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

6. Any medical information pertinent to the child's health, including, but not limited to, information obtained through the medical information questionnaire shall be provided to the child protective services or county agency.

7. Any personal identifying information that pertains to the patent or individual who surrendered a child, obtained through the medical information questionnaire is confidential and shall be exempt from disclosure to the child protective services or county agency per the California Public Records Act.

The medical information questionnaire shall not require any identifying information about the child or parent or individual surrendering the child, other than the identification code provided in the ankle bracelet placed on the child.

If a person wants to surrender a child who is over 72 hours old, the parent or guardian having lawful custody must contact their child protective services or a county agency providing child welfare services in order to avoid arrest or prosecution for child abandonment.

  • In Los Angeles County, they can contact the Department of Children and Family Services at 1-800-540-4000.
  • Outside of Los Angeles County, they can contact the Safe Surrender Hotline 1-877-222-9723 (1-877-BABY-SAF) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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The California Department of Social Services, Office of Child Abuse Prevention (OCAP), has funded operation of the Safely Surrendered Baby (SSB) Statewide Hotline since 2010.

 As a result of efforts to promote understanding of the law, more than 700 newborns have been surrendered in California since 2001.