West Virginia Safe Haven Laws

A hospital or health care facility operating in the state of West Virginia shall take possession of a child not older than 30 days without a court order if the child is voluntarily delivered to the hospital or health care facility by its parent with intent not to return for the child.[i]

Upon receiving the child, the hospital or health care facility shall:

a)     perform acts necessary to protect the health and safety of the child.[ii]

b)     not compel the parent to disclose any identifying information.  Parents have the right to remain anonymous.[iii]

c)     notify the Child Protective Services Division of the Department of Health and Human Resources that it has taken possession of the child not later than the close of the first business day after taking possession. [iv]

d)     Transfer information obtained from the child’s parent, if any, to the Department Of Health and Human Resources Division of Child Protective Services. [v]

The Department of Health and Human Resources shall assume care, control and custody of the child as of the time of delivery of the child to the hospital or health care facility.  After the child leaves the hospital/health care facility, the Department may contract with a private child care agency for the child’s care and placement. [vi]    The hospital or health care facility shall refer any inquiries about the child to the Department of Health and Human Resources Protective Services Division.[vii]

A child taken into custody by the Department under safe haven laws shall be deemed an abandoned child and shall be treated as a child taken into custody under the provisions of § 49-6-9 (dealing with custody in emergency situations).[viii]  After assuming custody, the Department with the co-operation of the county prosecuting attorney shall cause a petition to be presented according to the provisions of § 49-6-3 (dealing with petition to court when child believed to be neglected or abused-temporary custody).  After that, the Department shall proceed in compliance with Article six of chapter 49(dealing with procedure in cases of child abuse or neglect.)[ix] A child surrendered according to the safe haven laws shall be eligible for adoption as an abandoned child. [x]

It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under § 61-8D-4(a) (dealing with criminal penalties for child neglect resulting in injury or risk of injury) if a parent charged under that section delivered the child, for whom the parent is charged, within 30 days of the child’s birth.[xi]

[i] W. Va. Code § 49-6E-1

[ii] W. Va. Code § 49-6E-1

[iii] W. Va. Code § 49-6E-1

[iv] W. Va. Code § 49-6E-2

[v] W. Va. Code § 49-6E-2

[vi] W. Va. Code § 49-6E-2

[vii] W. Va. Code § 49-6E-2

[viii] W. Va. Code § 49-6E-3

[ix] W. Va. Code § 49-6E-3

[x] W. Va. Code § 49-6E-5

[xi] W. Va. Code § 49-6E-4


Inside West Virginia Safe Haven Laws