Infant Safe Haven Laws - Rhode Island

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Infant's Age

Citation: Gen. Laws § 23-13.1-3

A child who is or appears to be 30 days old or younger may be relinquished.

Who May Relinquish the Infant

Citation: Gen. Laws §§ 23-13.1-3; 23-13.1-4

The child may be relinquished by the parent or any person acting at the direction of the parent, who does not express an intent to return for the infant, and the circumstances give rise to a reasonable belief that the person does not intend to return for the infant.

Who May Receive the Infant

Citation: Gen. Laws § 23-13.1-3

The child may be left at any of the following facilities:

  • A hospital
  • A medical emergency facility
  • A fire station
  • A police station

Responsibilities of the Safe Haven Provider

Citation: Gen. Laws § 23-13.1-3; 23-13.1-5

The hospital or other facility designated in this section shall offer the person leaving the infant written information concerning the legal effect of leaving the infant with the hospital or other facility.

Any hospital, medical facility, or licensed physician and its employees, independent contractors, and agents, are authorized to provide to an infant left at a hospital or other facility any medical care and treatment, including testing for the human immunodeficiency virus and hepatitis, that the attending physician believes necessary for the infant's well-being.

Immediately upon taking physical possession of an infant pursuant to this chapter, the hospital or other facility shall notify the Department of Children, Youth, and Families that it has physical possession of the infant.

Immunity for the Provider

Citation: Gen. Laws § 23-13.1-3

The hospital or other facility and/or any employee, independent contractor, agent, doctor, other medical professional, law enforcement, or fire official associated with the hospital or facility shall be immune from any criminal or civil liability arising from actions taken in accordance with this chapter, including, but not limited to, determining the age of, receiving, examining, or otherwise treating the infant. This immunity does not apply to acts or omissions constituting negligence or reckless, wanton, or intentional misconduct.

The hospital or other facility performing duties under this chapter and/or any staff member, employee, independent contractor, agent, doctor, other medical professional, law enforcement, or fire official associated with the hospital or facility shall be immune from any criminal or civil liability that otherwise might result from the failure to make a report under the provisions of chapter 11 of title 40, if the entity or person acted in good faith in complying with this section.

Protection for Relinquishing Parent

Citation: Gen. Laws §§ 23-13.1-3; 23-13.1-4

The person leaving the infant may, but shall not be required to, leave any information disclosing the identity of himself/herself, the infant, or the parents or other family member of the infant and/or the medical history of himself/herself, the infant, or the parents or other family member of the infant. Any information obtained from the person leaving the infant shall be kept confidential by the hospital or other facility and shared with no one other than the Department of Children, Youth, and Families.

If a court determines that the immunity provisions below do not apply, the hospital or other facility where the infant was left must disclose the information relating to the identity of the person, the infant, the parents of the infant, or other family member of the infant to the Attorney General upon court order.

Nothing contained in this section shall preclude the department from notifying law enforcement authorities of any criminal wrongdoing in accordance with §§ 11-9-5 and/or 40-11-5.

A person who leaves an infant at a hospital or other facility, or directs another person to do so, shall be immune from prosecution only for the act of abandonment of the infant pursuant to §§ 11-2-1 and 11-9-5(a) provided that the following apply:

  • The person is the parent of the infant or is acting at the direction of a parent.
  • The infant is left in the physical custody of a staff member of the hospital or other facility designated under this chapter.
  • A comprehensive medical examination of the infant determines the infant has not been harmed or been the victim or any physical neglect or abuse. Injuries and/or conditions resulting from childbirth shall not be considered harm, abuse, or neglect.

Effect on Parental Rights

Citation: Gen. Laws § 23-13.1-5

The department shall immediately respond to a report from the hospital or other facility, place the infant in the temporary protective custody of the department, and make arrangements for the infant to undergo a comprehensive medical examination by a licensed physician or a duly certified registered nurse practitioner.

The department shall, upon obtaining temporary custody of the infant and provided that no person has asserted a claim to be the parent of the infant within 90 days, commence proceedings to terminate the parental rights of the parents of the infant.

The leaving of the infant at a hospital or other facility and the failure of a person to assert a claim to be the parent of the infant within 90 days of the infant being placed in the temporary custody of the department shall constitute prima facie evidence of permanent abandonment of the infant.