South Dakota Safe Haven Laws

In South Dakota, an emergency medical services provider or licensed child placement agency shall take possession of a child who appears to be not more than 60 days old if the child is voluntarily delivered to the provider or agency by the child’s parent with intent not to return for the child.[i]  An emergency medical services provider means a licensed health care facility or a clinic, any agent of a licensed health care facility or a clinic, a law enforcement officer, an emergency medical technician, or a firefighter. [ii]

Any provider/agency taking possession of the child shall perform necessary acts to protect the physical health and safety of the child.[iii]  Relinquishing a newborn to any provider/agency shall not be considered as a crime if the child is in an unharmed condition.[iv]

The provider/agency accepting custody of the newborn may ask the parent to provide information regarding the medical background of the child.  However, the parent may not be compelled to disclose any information.[v]

The Department or licensed child placement agency may not attempt to identify, contact, or make any investigations about the parent who voluntarily delivered the child.  However, they may initiate investigations if the relinquished child is in a harmed condition.[vi]
The non relinquishing parent of the relinquished child may file an action for custody of the child within 30 days after the provider or agency accepts custody of the child from the relinquishing parent. In such an action, the non relinquishing parent shall prove that he/she is the child’s parent, and the child was relinquished without his/her consent.[vii]

After relinquishment, all of the parent’s rights with respect to the relinquished child shall be terminated, and the child becomes a ward of the state or licensed child placement agency.[viii]

A hearing to terminate parental rights shall be held in the circuit court 60 days after the emergency medical services provider or licensed child placement agency takes possession of the child.[ix]

Any emergency medical services provider or licensed child placement agency accepting custody of a child is immune from civil, criminal, and administrative liability for any act of commission or omission related to acceptance of custody of the child.  Additionally, they are also immune from any liability in connection with the care of the child while the child is in the provider’s or agency’s custody. [x]

Upon accepting custody, the provider/agency shall immediately notify the Department of Social Services that the provider or agency has taken possession of the child.  Upon receiving notification, the Department or licensed child placement agency shall immediately assume the care, custody, and control of the child.  However, after notification, the licensed child placement agency who has taken possession of the child may continue with the custody of the child. [xi]

[i] S.D. Codified Laws § 25-5A-27

[ii] S.D. Codified Laws § 25-5A-34

[iii] S.D. Codified Laws § 25-5A-27

[iv] S.D. Codified Laws § 25-5A-28

[v] S.D. Codified Laws § 25-5A-30

[vi] S.D. Codified Laws § 25-5A-32

[vii] S.D. Codified Laws § 25-5A-33

[viii] S.D. Codified Laws § 25-5A-29

[ix] S.D. Codified Laws § 25-5A-35

[x] S.D. Codified Laws § 25-5A-31

[xi] S.D. Codified Laws § 25-5A-32


Inside South Dakota Safe Haven Laws