Safe haven means a hospital or hospital outpatient facility, a law enforcement agency, a fire station, an emergency medical services station, or any staffed house of worship during hours when the facility is staffed.

Under Section 63-7-40 of South Carolina Code of Laws, as amended, those places defined as safe havens have certain statutory responsibilities; and those responsibilities are outlined therein.

Some of these responsibilities are as follows:

1. A safe haven in this State must, without a court order, take temporary physical custody of an infant ("infant" means a person not more than thirty days old) who is voluntarily left with the safe haven by a person who does not express an intent to return for the infant and the circumstances give rise to a reasonable belief that the person does not intend to return for the infant. If the safe haven is a hospital or hospital outpatient facility, the hospital or hospital facility shall perform any act necessary to protect the physical health or safety of the infant; any other safe haven shall, as soon as possible, but no later than six hours after receiving an infant, transport the infant to a hospital or hospital outpatient facility. The person leaving the infant is not required to disclose his or her identity; however, the person must leave the infant in the physical custody of a staff member or employee of the safe haven.

2.  The safe haven must offer the person leaving the infant information concerning the legal effect of leaving the infant with the safe haven.

3. The safe haven must ask the person leaving the infant to identify any parent of the infant other than the person leaving the infant with the safe haven. The safe haven also must attempt to obtain from the person information concerning the infant’s background and medical history as specified on a form provided by the Department of Social Services. This information includes, but is not limited to, information concerning the use of a controlled substance by the infant’s mother, provided that information regarding the use of a controlled substance by the infant’s mother is not admissible as evidence of the unlawful use of a controlled substance in any court proceeding. The safe haven shall give the person a copy of the form and a prepaid envelope for mailing the form to the Department of Social Services if the person does not wish to provide the information to the safe haven. These materials must be provided to safe havens by the department.

Most of the governmental agencies that are safe havens have been informed of their responsibility under the law. Houses of worship on the other hand may not know that they even have responsibilities as a safe haven.

I found a procedure manual for the Columbia, South Carolina Fire Department that outlines the steps needed to comply with the Safe Haven Law at this website. This manual is a great platform to model your procedure manual after with the aid of your attorney. If you need help structuring a manual that will help you comply with the law please call my office at 843-267-0906 or e-mail my office at