Placer County has more than 30 approved locations where parents may surrender newborn babies without fear of arrest or prosecution for child abandonment.
Approved sites include several hospitals and many fire stations located in both cities and unincorporated areas throughout the county. A list is available on the county Health and Human Services Department’s website.
In September, the Placer County Board of Supervisors approved adding 11 additional fire stations to the list of safe surrender locations throughout the county.
The safe surrender sites were established in response to the California Safely Surrendered Baby Act of 2001, which seeks to protect newborn infants at risk of being abandoned at unsafe locations. The act also is sometimes referred to as the state’s Safe Haven Law.
“The program has had a share of success, but the tragic and senseless infant deaths the law seeks to prevent still occur from time to time,” said Richard Knecht, M.S. Director of Placer County’s Children’s System of Care. “We want to remind everyone the program allows parents and legal guardians to safely surrender babies confidentially and without fear of prosecution within 72 hours of birth if the babies have not been abused or neglected. The program is a life-saver, and we want to make sure everyone knows it is available.”
He noted that a parent or person with lawful custody has up to 14 days from the time of surrender to reclaim a baby. 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.
Parents and guardians who surrender babies are asked to complete a medical questionnaire that helps social service and medical workers determine how to best care for the babies, but participation is voluntary and can be declined. Information that might be used to identify a parent or guardian is removed to maintain the person’s confidentiality.
The California Department of Social Services has toll-free hotline telephone numbers posted on its website at for people looking for safe surrender sites in other counties throughout California.
On the website, the department provides statewide statistics, reporting that parents and guardians surrendered 57 newborn babies this year through Sept. 30 and surrendered 669 newborns from Jan. 1, 2001 through Sept. 30, 2014.