Arkansas Safe Haven
In Arkansas, there is always a Safe Haven for your baby.
The Arkansas Safe Haven law allows a parent to bring a child, 30 days old or younger to an employee at any hospital emergency room, law enforcement agency, fire department that is staffed 24 hours a day, or a designated newborn safety device (often called a baby box) location anonymously and without facing prosecution for endangering or abandoning a child.
Once a baby is given up, the Arkansas Department of Human Services will be called so that it can find the baby a permanent loving home.
You can take the baby to any hospital emergency room in Arkansas, any police or sheriff department, an Arkansas State Police office, a fire department that is staffed 24 hours a day, or a designated newborn safety device (often called a baby box). The baby must be left with an employee - not at the door – unless there is a designated newborn safety device.
- Arkansas Hospital Emergency Rooms (PDF)
- Police and Sherrif Locations (PDF)
- Manned Fire Stations (PDF)
A parent who does not want an infant or who is unable to care for an infant can give up custody of a baby 30 days or younger legally and anonymously to an employee at any hospital emergency room, law enforcement agency, or fire department that is staffed 24 hours a day. Babies also can be placed in a newborn safety device. When a baby is dropped off, no information is required. Here you can find out what your hospital or agency needs to know.
- Law Enforcement, Fire, & Hospital Guidelines (PDF)
- Additional Hospital Guidelines (PDF)
- Safe Haven Info Card (PDF)
- Voluntary Medical Info Sheet (PDF)
Q. What is Safe Haven?
A. Safe Haven is a law designed to protect babies. In Arkansas, under this law a parent may give up an infant anonymously. As long as the baby has not been abused or neglected, the parent may relinquish the child without fear of arrest or prosecution.
Q. Why did Arkansas do this?
A. The purpose of Safe Haven is to protect babies from being hurt or killed from unsafe abandonment. Abandoning a baby puts the infant in extreme danger that can result in the baby’s death. It is also illegal, with severe consequences. But with Safe Haven, a baby can be safely given up at a hospital emergency room, law enforcement agency, fire department that is manned 24 hours a day, or in a designated newborn safety device (often called a baby box).
Q. How does it work?
A. A parent who does not want an infant or who is unable to care for an infant can give up custody of a baby 30 days old or younger legally and anonymously. All that is required is that the baby be brought to a hospital emergency room, police station, sheriff’s office, or a fire department that is manned 24 hours a day in Arkansas. As long as the child shows no signs of intentional abuse, no name or other information is required.
Q. Are there any designated newborn safety devices (baby boxes) in Arkansas?
A. Yes, there is one at the Benton (City) Fire Station #3 2717 Edison Avenue, Benton, AR 72015
Q. Who can drop off the baby?
A. In Arkansas, only a parent can bring the baby to the appropriate drop off facility.
Q. Does he or she have to call before bringing in the baby?
A. No. They can walk in anytime.
Q. Does a parent have to give any information to the people taking the baby?
A. No. Nothing is required. However, hospital personnel, law enforcement officers, or firefighters should record any information that a parent is willing to share, such as the child's health, race, date of birth, place of birth, name or medical history of the parents. This could be very useful in caring for the child. These questions can be answered anonymously on a medical questionnaire that is available online. Please keep printouts of the questionnaire available and give one to the parent relinquishing the child.
Q. What happens if the parent voluntarily gives her identifying information when dropping off the baby?
A. If a parent voluntarily provides personal identifying information his/her anonymity will be protected unless the child was abused or neglected before delivery to the medical provider, law enforcement agency, or fire department.
Q. What happens to a parent when she drops off the baby?
A. If a mother brings in the baby, she should be offered medical treatment and social services. She can, of course, refuse if she wishes. Once she has safely turned over the baby, she is free to go. Give her a card with information about how to share information about the baby, what to do if she changes her mind or if she decides later she wants to make contact with her baby. Tell her she can complete the anonymous medical questionnaire and drop it in any mailbox. P
Q. What happens to the baby once the baby is dropped off?
A. The child should be given a medical exam and treatment, if needed. Then the Arkansas Department of Human Services’ Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS) will immediately take custody and place the child in a foster or pre-adoptive home. DCFS will then initiate the process of terminating parental rights, freeing the baby for adoption.
Q. Why would a parent give up a baby?
A. Babies have been given up for many reasons, including: mother kept the pregnancy a secret, mother fears she does not have enough money or support to care for her baby, the baby was the result of rape or incest, mother is afraid of being abused if pregnancy/baby is discovered, mother is afraid of the humiliation of having a baby out of wedlock, and more. A parent who has experienced any of these circumstances may be under severe emotional distress. Because she is afraid and feels she has nowhere to turn for help, she could unsafely abandoned her newborn.
Q. Can someone take another person’s baby and turn the baby in as an abandoned baby?
A. When a baby is given up, the Division of Children and Family Services shall use the Missing Persons Information Clearinghouse and any other national and state resources to determine whether the child is a missing child.
Q. What happens if the mother, or a relative, wishes to regain custody of a baby?
A. If the mother, or a relative, wishes to regain custody of the baby they should immediately contact the local Division of Children and Family Services office in the county where the baby was dropped off.
We know you have lots of questions about what it means to give your baby up under the Safe Haven law. Here we connect you to more information.
- Safe Haven Brochure (PDF)
- Safe Haven Brochure (Folleto en Español) (PDF)
- Complete Safe Haven Law (PDF)
You also can call 1-888-510-BABY.