Safe Arms for Newborns

The County of San Diego has designated all Hospital Emergency Rooms and designated Fire Stations as the location where newborns can safely be surrendered to care without prosecution of the parent.

On January 1, 2001, California became one of a dozen states to enact a law intended to provide for the health and safety of unwanted newborn children. The "Safe Arms for Newborns" law states that "no parent or other person who has lawful custody of a minor child 72 hours old or younger may be prosecuted for child abandonment if he or she voluntarily surrenders physical custody of the child to a designated employee at a public or private hospital emergency room or other location designated by the county board of supervisors."

Safe Arms for Newborns Sites

All fire stations in Escondido are Safe Surrender sites. For a list of hospitals and fire stations in San Diego County that are designated Safe Surrender Sites, please click here.

How the Law Works

A distressed parent who is unable or unwilling to care for an infant can legally, confidentially and safely surrender her baby within three days of birth. The baby and parent will be given matching bracelets to help connect them in the event that the parent wants the baby back. The law allows another person to bring in the baby if they have lawful custody. A parent can bring in a baby anytime, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The parent is not required to provide any information. However, firefighters will give the parent a medical information questionnaire that is designed to gather family medical history. This is the parent's responsibility to complete and could be very useful in the care of the child.

What Happens to the Baby and Parent

The baby will be examined and given medical treatment, if needed. The baby will then be placed in a foster or pre-adoptive home by the County Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). If a parent wants her baby back, she may contact HHS. Under the SSB Law, a parent has at least 14 days to claim his or her infant.

For more information on this program, call the County of San Diego at (858) 694-5700, or click here.

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