ATrain Education

 

Continuing Education for Health Professionals

IA: Child Abuse, A Guide for Mandatory Reporters

Module 9

Safe Haven for Newborns

What Is the Newborn Safe Haven Act?

Iowa has joined thirty other states in creating safe havens for infants. The Newborn Safe Haven Act (Iowa Code Chapter 233) 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 healthcare facility without fear of prosecution for abandonment (DHS, 2017).

What Is a Safe Haven?

A safe haven is an institutional health facility, which is defined according to the Act to be:

  • A “hospital” as defined in Iowa Code section 135B.1, including a facility providing medical or health services that is open 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, and is a hospital emergency room; or
  • A “healthcare facility” as defined in Iowa Code section 135C.1, including 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.

The health facility may ask for but cannot require names of the parents and medical history of baby and parents. The facility must notify DHS as soon as possible by calling 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.

The Act 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 healthcare facility.

The Act provides immunity from civil or criminal liability for hospitals, healthcare facilities, and persons employed by those facilities that perform reasonable acts necessary to protect the physical health and safety of the infant (DHS, 2017).

More information for parents and facilities is available from the DHS website.

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