Infant Safe Haven Laws - Wisconsin

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Infant's Age

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 48.195

A child who is 72 hours old or younger may be relinquished.

Who May Relinquish the Infant

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 48.195

The child may be relinquished by his or her parent.

Who May Receive the Infant

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 48.195

The child may be left at a sheriff's office, police station, fire station, hospital, or other place where a law enforcement officer, emergency medical services practitioner, or hospital staff member is located.

If a parent who wishes to relinquish custody of his or her child is unable to travel to a sheriff's office, police station, fire station, or hospital, the parent may dial 911 or, in an area in which the telephone number 911 is not available, the number for an emergency medical services provider, and the person receiving the call shall dispatch a law enforcement officer or emergency medical services practitioner to meet the parent and take the child into custody.

Responsibilities of the Safe Haven Provider

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 48.195

The safe haven provider shall do the following:

  • Take custody of a child the provider reasonably believes to be 72 hours old or younger who is left by a parent who does not express an intent to return for the child
  • Take any action necessary to protect the health and safety of the child
  • Deliver the child to an intake worker under § 48.20 within 24 hours after taking the child into custody
  • Within 5 days after taking the child into custody, file a birth record for the child under § 69.14(3)
  • Make available to the parent the maternal and child health toll-free telephone number maintained by the department

The decision whether to accept the information made available is entirely voluntary on the part of the parent. No person may induce, coerce, or attempt to induce or coerce any parent into accepting that information.

Immunity for the Provider

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 48.195

Any law enforcement officer, emergency medical services practitioner, or hospital staff member who takes a child into custody is immune from any civil liability to the child's parents or any criminal liability for any good-faith act or omission occurring solely in connection with the act of receiving custody of the child from the child's parents but is not immune from any civil or criminal liability for any act or omission occurring in subsequently providing care for the child.

In any civil or criminal proceeding, the good faith of a person specified above is presumed. This presumption may be overcome only by clear and convincing evidence.

Protection for Relinquishing Parent

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 48.195

The parent and any person who assists the parent have the right to remain anonymous. No person may induce, coerce, or attempt to induce or coerce a parent who wishes to remain anonymous into revealing his or her identity, unless the person has reasonable cause to suspect that the child has been the victim of abuse or neglect or that the person assisting the parent is coercing the parent into relinquishing custody of the child.

A parent who relinquishes a child and any person who assists the parent may leave the presence of the safe haven provider at any time, and no person may follow or pursue the parent or person assisting the parent, unless the person has reasonable cause to suspect that the child has been the victim of abuse or neglect or that the person assisting the parent has coerced the parent into relinquishing custody of the child.

No officer, employee, or agent of this State may attempt to locate or ascertain the identity of a parent who relinquishes a child, unless the officer, employee, or agent has reasonable cause to suspect that the child has been the victim of abuse or neglect or that the person assisting the parent has coerced the parent into relinquishing the child.

Any person who obtains any information relating to the relinquishment of a child shall keep that information confidential and may not disclose that information, except as specified in statute.

Any parent who relinquishes his or her child and any person who assists the parent are immune from any civil or criminal liability for any good-faith act or omission in connection with that relinquishment. The immunity granted under this paragraph includes immunity for exercising the right to remain anonymous, the right to leave at any time, and the right not to accept any information and immunity from prosecution for abandonment of a child or for neglecting a child.

Effect on Parental Rights

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 48.195; 48.415

The department shall promulgate rules to implement this section. The rules shall include rules prescribing a means by which a parent who relinquishes custody of his or her child may, until the granting of an order terminating parental rights, choose to be identified as the child's parent.

The court may grant involuntary termination of parental rights on the grounds that custody of the child was relinquished when the child was 72 hours old or younger.