Infant Safe Haven Laws - Louisiana

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Infant's Age

Citation: Ch. Code Art. 1150

An infant may be relinquished. The term 'infant' means a child not previously subjected to abuse or neglect, who is not more than 60 days old as determined within a reasonable degree of medical certainty by an examining physician.

Who May Relinquish the Infant

Citation: Ch. Code Art. 1150; 1151

The terms 'relinquish' or 'relinquishment' of an infant mean to give possession or control of the infant by a parent to another in compliance with this chapter with the settled intent to forego all parental responsibilities.

If a parent wishes to relinquish his or her infant, he or she may leave the infant in the care of any employee of a designated emergency care facility or in a newborn safety device that meets the specifications of this law and is physically located inside of a facility that is licensed as a hospital and has an emergency department that is staffed 24 hours per day. If the parent is unable to travel to such a facility, he or she may call 911, and a law enforcement officer or emergency medical service provider shall immediately be dispatched to meet the parent and transport the child to a hospital.

Who May Receive the Infant

Citation: Ch. Code Art. 1150; 1151

The infant may be delivered to a designated emergency care facility, including any of the following:

  • A licensed hospital
  • A local or parish public health unit
  • Medical clinics during normal hours of operation, including health clinics, ambulatory surgical centers, and federally qualified health centers
  • A manned police station
  • A manned fire station
  • An accredited child advocacy center

A newborn safety device must meet all the following specifications:

  • The device has been voluntarily installed by the designated emergency care facility.
  • The device is installed in a location that ensures the anonymity of the relinquishing parent and has a climate-controlled environment.
  • The access door to the device locks automatically upon closure when a newborn is in the device.
  • The supporting frame of the device is anchored to align the bed portion of the device directly beneath the access door and prevent movement of the unit as a whole.
  • The device features a safe sleep environment that includes a firm, flat bassinet mattress and a sheet that fits snugly on and overlaps the mattress and is free of pillows, bumpers, blankets, and other bedding.

Each designated emergency care facility that installs a newborn safety device shall install an adequate dual-alarm system connected to the physical location of the newborn safety device. A card holder stocked with safe haven informational cards supplied by the Department of Children and Family Services shall be installed adjacent to the device.

Each designated emergency care facility that installs a newborn safety device shall adopt written policies for receiving a newborn who has been relinquished into the newborn safety device.

Responsibilities of the Safe Haven Provider

Citation: Ch. Code Art. 1152; 1153

Every designated emergency care facility shall appoint as its representative one or more employees on duty during regular business hours who is knowledgeable about the requirements of this chapter. In addition, at other times each facility shall designate a representative who can be reached by emergency telephone service.

The department shall create a card that will be supplied to designated emergency care facilities. The card, shall contain a toll-free number to the department, shall be given to the individual relinquishing an infant into the care of a designated emergency care facility.

In the event that an infant is relinquished to a designated emergency care facility other than a hospital, the staff of the facility shall immediately transfer the child to a hospital. The representative shall immediately notify the department of the relinquishment.

The act of relinquishment constitutes parental consent for the purposes of examining and testing procedures conducted by hospital staff and for the purposes of providing medical treatment and care of the infant.

A physician shall promptly conduct a comprehensive medical examination and such tests to determine the following:

  • If the infant suffers from HIV or hepatitis, if suspected
  • If the infant suffered fetal exposure to alcohol or drugs
  • If the infant appears to have been abused or neglected
  • The infant's estimated date of birth, if not previously known

The hospital shall forward the infants birth information to the Bureau of Vital Statistics for issuance of a birth certificate unless it is determined that one has already been issued. Unless otherwise known, the infant shall be presumed to have been born in Louisiana.

Immunity for the Provider

Citation: Ch. Code Art. 1152; 1153

Absent evidence of willful or intentional misconduct or gross negligence in carrying out their responsibilities, the representative and other staff of the designated emergency facility shall be immune from civil and criminal liability in any legal action arising from the examination, testing, care, and treatment of the infant.

Absent evidence of willful or intentional misconduct or gross negligence in carrying out their responsibilities, medical personnel and hospital staff shall be immune from civil and criminal liability in any legal action arising from the hospital's examination, testing, care, and treatment of the infant.

Protection for Relinquishing Parent

Citation: Ch. Code Art. 1151; 1152

Relinquishment in accordance with this law is not a criminal act of neglect, abandonment, cruelty, or crime against the child.

In the event that the relinquishing parent makes contact with the department, a designated emergency care facility, emergency medical service provider, firefighter, or law enforcement officer, the relinquishing parent shall be asked to voluntarily provide information about any prenatal care and the name of the other parent.

The representative, emergency medical service provider, firefighter, or law enforcement officer shall provide to the parent written information about the following:

  • How to contact the department should the parent later have questions about the relinquishment or the voluntary medical and genetic history information
  • The availability of counseling services
  • The right of the parent to file a claim and be heard in accordance with articles 1156 and 1157
  • The right of the parent to use the services of the voluntary adoption registry in accordance with title XII, chapter 15

Effect on Parental Rights

Citation: Ch. Code Art. 1154; 1156; 1157; 1158

The department shall take physical custody of the infant within 12 hours of notice that the infant is ready to be discharged from the hospital. The department shall exercise due diligence in attempting to identify and locate any nonrelinquishing parent, including, but not limited to, performing a missing-children search.

Within 30 days after the relinquishment, the parent may seek to reclaim parental rights by filing a motion declaring his or her intention to retain his or her parental rights. The court shall order blood or tissue testing and shall also order the department to immediately conduct a home study of any parent seeking to reclaim his or her rights. A relinquishing parent may reclaim parental rights by proving by clear and convincing evidence that:

  • He or she is the parent of the child.
  • Setting aside the relinquishment and permitting the parent to reclaim the child is in the child's best interests.

If the court finds that the relinquishment should be set aside and that the parent may reclaim his or her parental rights, then the parent shall also prove that he or she has manifested a substantial commitment to his or her parental responsibilities and is a fit parent of the child. If the court finds that the parent has established parental rights, it may also order the parent to reimburse all or part of the medical expenses incurred for the infant in connection with his or her birth and care.

If a relinquishing parent has not made a timely claim to the child and if no timely claim has been made by a nonrelinquishing father, the court shall, within 45 days after the relinquishment, terminate the rights of the parents.

No action to annul a judgment terminating parental rights shall be brought for any reason after 90 days from its signing or after a decree of adoption has been entered, whichever is earlier.