New Jersey Safe Haven Laws


In New Jersey, the New Jersey Safe Haven Infant Protection Act governs the laws relating to the safe abandonment of newborns. [i]

A state, county or municipal police officer, or a licensed general hospital shall accept a child not more than 30 days old if the child is voluntarily delivered to such facility by a person with intent not to return for the child.[ii]  If the child is accepted by a police station, it shall take it to the emergency department of a licensed general hospital in the State of New Jersey.[iii]

Upon accepting the child, the hospital shall:[iv]

a) take possession of the child without a court order;

b) provide necessary medical attention to protect the child’s physical health and safety; and

c) notify the Division of Youth and Family Services in the Department of Children and Families that the hospital has taken possession of the child.  The notification must be made not later than the first business day after taking possession of the child.

The Division of Youth and Family Services shall assume care, custody and control of the child immediately upon receipt of notice from a licensed general hospital.  After that, the Division shall commence a thorough investigation to find out if the child is reported as a missing child.[v]  A child taken into custody by the Division of Youth and Family Services shall be treated as a child taken into possession without a court order.[vi]

It shall be an affirmative defense to prosecution for abandonment of a child that the parent voluntarily delivered the child or arranged another person to deliver the child to any State, county or municipal police station, or a licensed general hospital in accordance with the Act. [vii]  However, the person surrendering the newborn may not raise the defense if the prosecution is for an act other than relinquishment of the newborn, or an act prior to the relinquishment of the newborn. [viii]

A State, county or municipal police officer and the governmental jurisdiction employing that officer or an employee of an emergency department of a licensed general hospital in the State of New Jersey and the hospital employing that person shall not incur any civil or criminal liability for any acts or omissions done in good faith for carrying out the provisions of the Act.[ix]

Any person who voluntarily delivers a child in accordance with the Act shall not be required to disclose any identifying information about himself/herself, the child, or  the child’s parent.  Additionally, the surrendering person may also not be required to provide any background or medical information about the child.  However, the person may voluntarily provide information. [x]

The division, after assuming custody of a child from a licensed general hospital shall not be required to attempt to reunify the child with the child’s parents. Additionally, the division shall not be required to search for relatives of the child as a placement or permanency option, or to implement other placement requirements that give preference to relatives if the division does not have any identifying information about the identity of the child, the child’s mother or the child’s father. The division also has the responsibility to place the child with potential adoptive parents as soon as possible.[xi]

The State makes effort to propagate the provisions of the Act.  The Commissioner of Children and Families, in consultation with the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services and pursuant to the “Administrative Procedure Act,” adopts rules and to achieve the purposes of the act. [xii]

The Commissioner of Children and Families together with the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services shall establish an educational and public information program to promote and propagate safe placement alternatives for newborn infants.  The program shall also include information regarding adoption procedures and the confidentially offered to birth parents. The program establishes a 24-hour, toll free hotline to assist any queries regarding the safe haven procedures and to propagate provisions of the Act. [xiii]

The Department of Children and Families shall also provide to licensed general hospitals, and State, county or municipal police stations information about relevant social service agencies which may be made available to any person voluntarily delivering a child. [xiv]

The Commissioner of Children and Families, in consultation with the Commissioner of Education, shall develop a plan to distribute to all public school districts in the State with students in grades 7 through 12 pamphlets, posters and other educational materials providing information about the Act.  The distribution of pamphlets, posters and other educational materials shall be made free of cost.  The department shall update the pamphlets, posters and other educational materials, and shall make additional copies available to educators and other individuals working with public school students in grades 7 through 12. [xv]

[i] N.J. Stat. § 30:4C-15.5

[ii] N.J. Stat. § 30:4C-15.7(a)

[iii] N.J. Stat. § 30:4C-15.7(a)

[iv] N.J. Stat. § 30:4C-15.7(b)

[v] N.J. Stat. § 30:4C-15.7(c)

[vi] N.J. Stat. § 30:4C-15.7(d)

[vii] N.J. Stat. § 30:4C-15.7(e)

[viii] N.J. Stat. § 30:4C-15.7(e)

[ix] N.J. Stat. § 30:4C-15.7(f)

[x] N.J. Stat. § 30:4C-15.7(g)

[xi] N.J. Stat. § 30:4C-15.8

[xii] N.J. Stat. § 30:4C-15.10

[xiii] N.J. Stat. § 30:4C-15.9(a)

[xiv] N.J. Stat. § 30:4C-15.9(b)

[xv] N.J. Stat. § 30:4C-15.11