Safe Haven Act works

Earlier this year, the 29th baby in Iowa was declared to be a Safe Haven baby. This young boy shows the importance of this law for many children and their new families. The Safe Haven Act allows parents, or another person acting on the parents’ behalf, to leave an infant up to 14 days old at a hospital or health care facility without fear of legal repercussions. Under the Safe Haven Act parents cannot be prosecuted for abandonment or neglect so long as there are no signs of abuse.

Besides the stipulation that the child be under 14 days old, the law requires that a drop-off location be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and have a nursing staff on location at all times. In Marshalltown the two locations meeting those requirements are the UnityPoint-Marshalltown Hospital Emergency Room and the Iowa Veterans Home.

Safe Haven does not require parents to provide Safe Haven staff with any information regarding the child, but parents may be asked clarifying questions regarding the child’s medical history and heritage. Once a baby is declared to be a Safe Haven Baby, they are given to the care of the Iowa Department of Human Services. After a period of time, parental rights are terminated and the child is able to be adopted.

Melissa Koch, manager of UnityPoint Health-Marshalltown’s Birthing Center recognizes the importance of Save Haven for our community:“It creates a combination of comfort for the mother and protection of the baby, and our staff is absolutely happy and proud that we have a Safe Haven zone in the ER Department here at UnityPoint Health-Marshalltown.”

Linda Havelka, Associate Director at Child Abuse Prevention Services is grateful for the service the Safe Haven Act provides Marshalltown and the surrounding areas: “I think Safe Haven is a great option for parents who are feeling overwhelmed and underprepared and want to do the best thing for their infant child, but don’t know any other way to do so.”

More information on the Safe Haven Act can be found at the Iowa Department of Human Service’s Website at