Lynne A. Valenti
Cabinet Secretary

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Safe Havens

If for any reason you feel you cannot parent your baby and have no other options,  South Dakota law allows a parent to voluntarily leave their baby with an emergency medical services provider hospital or child placement agency if the child is less than 60 days old and is left unharmed. Leaving a baby under this law with an emergency medical services provider or child placement agencyas allowed for under this law is not a crime. The parent may be asked for medical information related to the baby’s medical history; however, the parent will not be required to provide their name, the other parent’s name, or any other identifying information.

Those providers and agencies a parent may leave their baby with under this law are listed below.  

  • Hospitals or clinics
  • Law enforcement officers
  • Licensed child placement agencies
  • Any Department of Social Services office
  • Emergency medical technicians
  • Firefighters

The emergency medical services provider or child placement agency to must notify the Department of Social Services a child has been placed with them. The Department cannot attempt to identify, contact or investigate the parent unless it appears the child has been harmed. The Department's Division of Child Protection Services or the child placement agency will receive custody and be responsible for the care of the baby. Parental rights of the parent who released the baby will be terminated after 14 days. 

The baby’s other parent has the right to file for custody of the baby after the baby has been released to the Department or child placement agency. To gain custody of the baby, the other parent has 30 days to prove he or she is the parent of the baby and that he or she did not consent to giving up the child’s custody. If the other parent does not come forward and 60 days have passed, a circuit court hearing is held to terminate all parental rights of the baby.

For more information on this law: