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Wyoming Legislature extends Safe Haven surrender period to 60 days

Newborn baby

(File photo)

GILLETTE, Wyo. — The Wyoming Department of Family Services says new legislation recently passed by the Wyoming Legislature extends the surrender period for newborn babies under the state’s Safe Haven law. 

Through the Safety for Newborn Child Act, parents have 60 days to voluntarily give up their newborn child to ensure the baby is cared for and kept safe. This is an extension of the long-standing 14-day period previously allowed under the state’s Safe Haven law, per DFS. 

“Under this law, giving up a baby in this way is not considered abuse or neglect,” DFS said in a statement. “The child will not be labeled as abused or neglected as a result of the relinquishment as long as the parent follows the guidelines outlined in the act.”

Per the act, parents can take their newborn children to any Safe Haven location as long as it is staffed 24 hours a day and seven days a week. These locations are fire stations, hospitals, police departments or sheriff’s offices. 

Parents or their representatives can voluntarily provide medication history information of themselves or the child, but it is not required to relinquish the child, DFS says. Additionally, providers cannot demand any information from the person relinquishing the child nor require that the person intend to reclaim the child. 

If after three months either parent does not seek to reclaim the child, the parental rights will be terminated so the child can be adopted. Safe Haven providers will ask if the child has any tribal affiliation or Native American ancestry, according to DFS. 

Should the child have Native American heritage, the Wyoming Indian Child Welfare Act will be followed by the court and all involved parties, per DFS.