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DA Reminds Residents of Legal way to Safely Surrender a Newborn

All hospitals and county fire stations, including the Mountain View Fire Department participate in the "safe surrender" program.

California residents can legally surrender a newborn baby to a hospital or another “safe surrender” site without repercussions, said Jeff Rosen, Santa Clara County district attorney.

The district attorney reminded county residents of California’s “Safely Surrendered Baby Law” in a letter on Tuesday, Aug. 30. September is "Baby Safety Awareness" month.

The law, first created in 2001, allows a parent to confidentially hand over a child to authorities within three days of its birth. If any identifying information is given to authorities, Rosen said, it would be kept confidential.

“A parent who complies with the safe surrender law cannot be prosecuted for child abandonment or failing to provide for the child. A parent may seek to reclaim the child within two weeks,” the district attorney said.

In the time since the law came into effect in 2001 until March 11 of this year, 407 newborns have been submitted to the state through the program. However, 151 have been found alive following illegal abandonment, according to the California Department of Social Services.

In addition to private and public hospitals, all fire stations in Santa Clara County serve as a 24-hour “safe surrender” site, including the fire stations in Mountain View.

According to the MVFD, when a baby is surrendered, a bracelet is placed on the baby for identification and a matching bracelet given to the parent. This bracelet helps re-unite the child and parent if the parent changes his or her mind within 14 days. During this two-week period, the person who surrendered the child can return to the Safe Haven site to start the process of reclaiming the child.

“Every baby deserves a chance for a healthy life,” Rosen said.

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