Know your employee responsibilities under Georgia’s Safe Place for Newborns Act

Girl newborn
Written by Lisa Kaylor

Did you know AU Health and Children’s Hospital of Georgia are considered Safe Havens for Newborns?

Georgia’s Safe Place for Newborns Act – also known as the Safe Haven Law – gives immunity to mothers who leave their babies at a medical facility, fire station or police station as long as the baby is younger than 30 days.

The mother is not required to show proof of identity or address. The law gives mothers who feel they cannot keep their babies a safe alternative to abandoning them in random areas.

“There are a number of situations that might cause someone to need to do this, (such as) if an individual does not feel that they can safely care for their child. Either they are unsafe themselves, or they are in an unsafe situation,” said Kim Basso, Director of Women’s and Children’s Services at the Children’s Hospital of Georgia. “That’s the whole reason why the Safe Haven law was created, so that babies would not be left in unsafe locations.”

According to the law, a mother who is leaving her child in a Safe Haven location must physically hand the baby to an employee of the facility.

That could mean you. So what do you do if you a mother gives you her newborn?

Call either Social Work at 706-721-1433  or AU Health Security at 706-721-9816 and tell them you have an abandoned child. Wait with the child until help arrives.

According to Judy Tyler, manager of Social Work Services, the baby must have a medical clearance, and then the Department of Health’s Division of Family and Children Services will be called. From that point, DFACS will follow their policies.

The Hope Box, a nonprofit that raises awareness about Georgia’s Safe Haven law and infant abandonment, reports that every day in Georgia, 22 infants are neglected, abused or abandoned.

While it isn’t a common occurrence for a mother to relinquish her baby at AU Health or Children’s – Basso said she doesn’t recall a single instance during her career here – it is important to be aware that it could happen, and to know what to do if it does.