Infant Safe Haven Laws - West Virginia

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Infant's Age

Citation: Ann. Code § 49-4-201

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

Who May Relinquish the Infant

Citation: Ann. Code § 49-4-201

The child may be relinquished by his or her parent.

Who May Receive the Infant

Citation: Ann. Code § 49-4-201

The child may be left at a hospital, health-care facility, or a fire department that has been designated a safe-surrender site under § 49-4-206.

Responsibilities of the Safe Haven Provider

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 49-4-201; 49-4-202

The hospital, health-care facility, or fire department shall, without a court order, take possession of a child if the child is voluntarily delivered to the hospital, health-care facility, or fire department by the child's parent within 30 days of the child's birth, and the parent did not express an intent to return for the child. A hospital, health-care facility, or fire department that takes possession of a child shall perform any act necessary to protect the physical health or safety of the child.

No later than the close of the first business day after the date on which a hospital or health-care facility takes possession of a child, the hospital or health-care facility shall notify the Child Protective Services Division of the Department of Health and Human Resources that it has taken possession of the child and shall provide the division any information provided by the parent delivering the child.

Upon taking possession of a child, a fire department shall do the following:

  • Deliver the child to the nearest hospital or health-care facility as soon as possible, but transport may begin no later than 30 minutes upon taking possession of a child
  • Notify the division within 2 hours of taking possession of the child of the following:
    • That it has delivered the child and identify the hospital or health-care facility to which it delivered the child
    • Provide the division any information provided by the parent delivering the child

The hospital, health-care facility, or fire department shall refer any inquiries about the child to the division.

Immunity for the Provider

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Protection for Relinquishing Parent

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 49-4-201; 49-4-203; 49-4-204

In accepting possession of the child, the hospital, health-care facility, or fire department may not require the person to identify himself or herself and shall otherwise respect the person's desire to remain anonymous.

The department and county prosecuting attorney may not identify in a dependency petition the parent(s) who utilized this article to relinquish his or her child.

A parent who relinquishes his or her child in good faith within 30 days of the child's birth under this article is immune from prosecution under § 61-8D-4(a).

Effect on Parental Rights

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 49-4-202; 49-4-203; 49-4-205

The Department of Health and Human Resources shall assume the care, control, and custody of the child at the time of delivery of the child to the hospital, health-care facility, or fire department and may contract with a private child care agency for the care and placement of the child after the child leaves the hospital, health-care facility, or fire department.

A child of whom the department assumes care, control, and custody under this article is a relinquished child and to be treated in all respects as a child taken into emergency custody pursuant to § 49-4-303. Upon taking custody of a child under this article, the department, with the cooperation of the county prosecuting attorney, shall cause a petition to be presented pursuant to § 49-4-602 to obtain court-ordered custody of the child. Thereafter, the department shall proceed in compliance with compliance with § 49-4-601, et seq.

The child shall be eligible for adoption as an abandoned child under chapter 48.