Safe Place for Newborns Act – Georgia’s Safe Haven Act
OCGA §§ 19-10A-1 through 19-10A-8
Under Georgia law, only state employees who currently work for the Georgia Department of Human Services, which includes the Department of Family and Children Services, may assume custody of a “safe” baby who is in a medical facility, a fire station, is located, is looked after, or police station.
No employee or volunteer of any other federal or state agency, non-profit organization, for-profit entity or person may pick up a Safe Haven baby from a medical facility, fire station or police station.
Under the Safe Place for Newborns Act, Georgia law grants a mother criminal immunity if she leaves her baby with an employee or volunteer of a medical facility, fire station or police station and the child is not older than 30 days. The mother is not required to prove her identity or address. The Safe Place for Newborns Act is often referred to as Georgia's Safe Haven Law.
Once a baby is released to an employee or volunteer on duty at a medical facility, police station, or fire department, that employee or volunteer must immediately notify the Family and Children Division of the Department of Human Services (DHS) Services (DFCS). . If the facility or facility incurs costs, including medical costs, to care for the baby, DHS will reimburse DFCS for those costs. These staff and volunteers must notify DHS DFCS when the baby is ready for pickup or medical discharge.
If a staff member or volunteer gives birth to a Safe Haven baby, he/she must immediately call Georgia's toll-free 24-hour child protection hotline at 1-855-GACHILD (+1 855-422-4453). You must call the hotline again when the baby is ready for pickup or medical discharge. Upon arrival at the facility or station, DHS employees present a photo ID to DFCS to verify their employment before accepting the baby into state custody.
Please call immediately 1-855-422-4453 Report cases in which an individual or organization has previously claimed or currently claims to be acting on behalf of the state to remove a “safe” or “abandoned” baby from a medical facility, fire station, or police station.
Abandoned babies in Georgia
If a newborn child is lawfully “abandoned” by his or her biological family, contact the superior court, juvenile court, or probate court must takes part in considering the child's circumstances and deciding whether the order is appropriate:
- temporary guardianship of a caregiver;
- custody to the State of Georgia via DHS DFCS; or
- custody to a caregiver.
When a child is “abandoned,” there must be a valid court order authorizing a specific person or DHS DFCS to care for the child. If someone comes to your facility or unit claiming that they have the authority to accept the child, you should always take appropriate measures to assess the child's safety. If you have questions, Please call immediately 1-855-422-4453 for assistance.
Safe Harbor Training
The state of Georgia does not require Safe Harbor training for personnel in medical facilities, fire stations, or law enforcement agencies.