Infant Safe Haven Laws - Ohio

Date:

Infant's Age

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 2151.3516

A child who is younger than 30 days old may be relinquished.

Who May Relinquish the Infant

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 2151.3516

The child's parent may voluntarily deliver the child to a safe haven provider when the parent expresses no intent to return for the child.

Who May Receive the Infant

Citation: Rev. Stat. §§ 2151.3516; 2151.317; 2151.3532

A child may be delivered to a person specified in § 2151.317 or a newborn safety incubator that meets the requirements of § 2151.3532.

The following entities or persons, while acting in an official capacity on behalf of any of the entities, shall take possession of a relinquished child:

  • A law enforcement agency or a peace officer employed by the agency
  • A hospital or a person working at the hospital
  • An emergency medical services organization or an emergency medical services worker

The design, function, and operation of a newborn safety incubator must meet the following requirements:

  • It must be installed at a law enforcement agency, a hospital, or an emergency medical services organization.
  • It must allow a child to be placed anonymously from outside the facility.
  • It must lock after a child is placed in it so that a person outside the facility is unable to access the child.
  • It must provide a controlled environment for the care and protection of the child.
  • It must provide notification to a centralized location in the facility within 30 seconds of a child being placed in the incubator.
  • It must trigger a 911 call if a facility does not respond within a reasonable amount of time after a child is placed in the facility's incubator.
  • It must have operating policies and supervision requirements for an incubator, including requirements that only a peace officer, emergency medical services worker, or hospital employee supervise the incubator and take custody of a child placed in it.

Responsibilities of the Safe Haven Provider

Citation: Rev. Stat. §§ 2151.3518; 2151.3530

On taking possession of a child, a law enforcement agency, hospital, or emergency medical services organization shall do all the following:

  • Perform any act necessary to protect the child's health or safety
  • Notify the public children's services agency in the county where the agency, hospital, or organization is located that the child has been taken into possession
  • Make forms available to the parent who delivered the child to gather medical information concerning the child and the child's parents, if possible
  • Make available to the parent who delivered the child written materials that describe services available to assist parents and newborns, if possible
  • If the child has suffered a physical or mental wound, injury, disability, or condition of a nature that reasonably indicates abuse or neglect of the child, attempt to identify and pursue the person who delivered the child

An emergency medical services worker who takes possession of a child shall, in addition to any act performed under this section, perform any medical service the worker is authorized to perform that is necessary to protect the physical health or safety of the child.

No person who takes possession of a child shall do the following with respect to a parent who voluntarily delivers a child:

  • Coerce or otherwise try to force the parent into revealing the identity of the child's parents
  • Pursue or follow the parent after the parent leaves the place at which the child was delivered
  • Coerce or otherwise try to force the parent not to desert the child
  • Coerce or otherwise try to force the parent to complete the medical information forms or to accept the informational materials

Immunity for the Provider

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 2151.3525

A person or governmental entity that takes possession of a child or takes emergency temporary custody of and provides temporary emergency care for a child is immune from any civil or criminal liability that might otherwise be incurred or imposed as a result of these actions, unless the person or entity has acted in bad faith or with malicious purpose.

The sections above do not create a new cause of action or substantive legal right against a person or governmental entity and do not affect any immunities from civil liability or defenses established by another section of law or available at common law to which a person or governmental entity may be entitled under circumstances not covered by this section.

Protection for Relinquishing Parent

Citation: Rev. Stat. §§ 2151.3525; 2151.3526; 2151.3528; 2151.29

A parent does not commit a criminal offense and shall not be subject to criminal prosecution for the act of voluntarily delivering a child. A person who delivers or attempts to deliver a child who has suffered any physical or mental wound, injury, disability, or condition of a nature that reasonably indicates abuse or neglect of the child is not immune from civil or criminal liability for abuse or neglect.

A parent who voluntarily delivers a child has the absolute right to remain anonymous. The anonymity of a parent who voluntarily delivers a child does not affect any duty imposed under § 2151.3517 or 2151.3518.A parent who voluntarily delivers a child may leave the place at which the parent delivers the child at any time after the delivery of the child.

A parent who delivers or attempts to deliver a child who has suffered any physical or mental wound, injury, disability, or condition of a nature that reasonably indicates abuse or neglect of the child does not have the right to remain anonymous and may be subject to arrest.

A parent who voluntarily delivers a child under § 2151.3516 may complete all or any part of the medical information forms made available to him or her. The parent may deliver the fully or partially completed forms at the same time as delivering the child or at a later time. The parent is not required to complete all or any part of the forms. A parent who voluntarily delivers a child may refuse to accept the informational materials made available § 2151.3518.

Effect on Parental Rights

Citation: Rev. Stat. §§ 2151.3519; 2151.3524; 2151.3531

On receipt of a notice given pursuant to § 2151.3518 that an emergency medical services organization, a law enforcement agency, or hospital has taken possession of a child, a public children services agency shall do the following:

  • Consider the child to be in need of protective services
  • Accept and take emergency temporary custody of the child
  • Provide temporary emergency care for the child
  • Make an investigation concerning the child
  • File a motion with the court requesting that the court grant temporary custody of the child to the agency or to a private child-placing agency
  • Provide any care for the child that the agency considers to be in the best interests of the child, including placing the child in shelter care

A public children's services agency or private child-placing agency that receives temporary custody of a deserted child shall prepare case plans, conduct investigations, conduct periodic administrative reviews of case plans, and provide services for the deserted child as if the child were adjudicated a neglected child.

If a child is adjudicated a deserted child and a person indicates to the court that the person is the parent of the child and that the person seeks to be reunited with the child, the court that adjudicated the child shall require the person, at the person's expense, to submit to a DNA test to verify that the person is a parent of the child.