4.21 Safe Infants Act


​​​​​​​​​​​​​The Kentucky Safe Infants Act allows parents to leave newborn infants less than thirty (30) days old at a staffed police station, fire station, hospital or participating place of worship without fear of criminal prosecution or allegation of neglect. The medical provider, firefighter, police officer or staff member at a participating place of worship should ensure the child is seen at the nearest emergency room for an evaluation and contact child protective services. As long as there are no other indicators of abuse or neglect, the department initiates the case as a dependency action. If the parents do not come forward within the initial thirty (30) days of placement, the department requests a waiver of efforts and proceeds with termination of parental rights.​

Practice Guidance

  • When filing the emergency custody order (ECO), the body of the petition includes facts known about the situation, including but not limited to: 
    • Where the infant was born (name of hospital) or where the child was relinquished (hospital, fire station, police station, place of worship); 
    • Who relinquished the child (for example, a mother who declined to give her name); If the parent(s) indicated a desire to place the child for adoption anonymously; 
    • Why the case is brought before the court, in accordance with KRS 620.350; 
    • The infant’s name (which is recorded on the petition as “Baby Girl Jane Doe” or Baby Boy John Doe,” until the foster parent names the infant with a first name and middle name). 
  • The Circuit or Family court may take one of the following actions if a claim of parental rights is made r prior to the court order terminating parental rights: 
    • Place the involuntary TPR proceeding on hold for up to ninety (90) days; 
    • Remand the case to District court where an adjudicatory hearing is held within ten (10) days of the assertion of parental rights; or 
    • Enter an order requiring genetic testing to establish maternity or paternity at the expense of the claimant. 
  • The sole act of relinquishment as it pertains to the Safe Infants Act does not result in a finding of abuse or neglect; other indicators of child abuse or neglect must be present. 
  • The petition to terminate parental rights is made by the Office of Legal Services (OLS) within sixty (60) days of the judicial determination that the child is an abandoned infant. 
  • From the point the TPR is filed, or if the agency joins a petition for termination filed by another party, the worker begins working simultaneously with R&C as appropriate to identify, recruit, process, and approve a qualified family for adoption. (Title IV-E, Section 475 (5)(E) of the Social Security Act and 45 CFR 1356.21 (i)(3)).


The SSW:

  1. Immediately seeks an emergency custody order (ECO) on behalf of the newborn infant, when DCBS is notified of a newborn infant meeting criterion for safe infant; 
  2. If the newborn infant is born outside of or relinquished at a place other than a hospital, requests within twelve (12) hours that the newborn infant receives a full trauma workup by a medical provider, including blood work, full skeletal and a CT scan as recommended by the physician; 
  3. Offers the person or parent the following brochures if the SSW has contact with the person or parent relinquishing the newborn infant: 
  4. A Safe Place for Your Baby, which explains the parent’s rights to reclaim the newborn infant; and 
  5. Maintaining Good Health After a Pregnancy; 
  6. Attempts to complete the following tasks if the person or parent relinquishing the newborn infant is willing: 
  7. Obtain as much medical information about the parents using the voluntary medical information questionnaire (the DPP-1268 Medical Information for Newborn Infants); and 
  8. Provide information regarding: 
  9. Family services; 
  10. Termination of parental rights; and 
  11. Adoption; 
  12. Does not place the parent’s identity in the petitions or other legal documents, including the case plan, ADT or case file unless the parent(s) does not want to remain anonymous;
  13. Places the infant in a foster/adoptive home approved to provide concurrent planning placement services after obtaining emergency custody of the infant and upon the infant’s release from the hospital; 
  14. Completes the appropriate assessment tool in TWIST; 
  15. Opens a case and develops an out of home care case plan; 
  16. Documents in the applicable sections of the case plan related to the parent that the parent is unknown; 
  17. Does not pursue placement with an individual claiming to be a relative of the newborn infant that has been relinquished because to do so would be to acknowledge the identity of the parent, and because the SSW has no way of confirming whether the individual is a relative; 
  18. During the initial thirty (30) days of placement, assistance is requested from law enforcement officials to utilize the Missing Child Information Center and other national resources for the purpose of ensuring that infant is not a missing child; 
  19. Notifies the District court and the Circuit or Family court if a claim of parental rights is made during the initial thirty (30) days of placement or prior to the court order terminating parental rights; 
  20. Completes the following tasks if a termination of parental rights proceeding is postponed because a parent attempts to reclaim a relinquished infant: 
  21. Conducts an investigation or assessment of the parent’s current circumstances and ability to provide for the child;
  22. Conducts a home evaluation; 
  23. Makes recommendations to the court based on findings from investigation or assessment and the home evaluation;
  24. Provides services to reunify the family or proceeds with termination of parental rights based on the findings of the court. Completes the following tasks if a parent does not contact the Cabinet within thirty (30) days after relinquishing the infant:
  25. Immediately consults with the regional attorney to seek involuntary termination of parental rights of the unknown parents and the authority to place the child for adoption; 
  26. Requests a waiver of efforts in District or Family court; 
  27. Requests the judge make a judicial determination that the infant is an abandoned infant; and 
  28.  Follows procedures outlined in SOP 11.36.2 Initiating a Request for an Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights;