SAFE HAVEN LAW by pptfiles


   From 1991 to 1998, the incidence of child abandonment
    in public places increased 62%. Of the 105 children
    abandoned in public places in 1998, 33 were found
   In New Jersey, dramatic accounts in the newspapers
    and television underscored the problem. In November
    of 1996, Wyckoff residents Amy Grossberg and Brian
    Peterson dumped their newborn into a motel trash bin
    in Newark, Delaware. In June of 1997, Melissa Drexler
    of Aberdeen Township gave birth in a public bathroom
    stall, next to where her high school prom was being
    held. She wrapped the baby in a garbage can liner, put
    it in the trashcan, and returned to her prom. In both
    cases, the babies died. Grossberg, Peterson, and Drexler
    all went to prison.
   The parents — or someone acting on their
    behalf — can bring a baby less than 30 days old
    to any hospital emergency room or police
    station in the state of New Jersey.
   The purpose of safe haven laws is to ensure that relinquished
    infants are left with persons who can provide the immediate care
    needed for their safety and well-being. To that end, approximately
    eight States require parents to relinquish their infants to a
   Other States designate additional entities as safe haven providers,
    including emergency medical services, police stations, and fire
    stations. In four States (Louisiana, Michigan, New Hampshire, and
    Vermont), emergency medical technicians responding to a 9-1-1
    call may accept an infant. In addition, four States (Arizona, New
    Hampshire, South Carolina, and Vermont) and Puerto Rico allow
    churches to act as safe havens, but the relinquishing parent must
    first determine that church personnel are present at the time the
    infant is left. Generally, anyone on staff at these institutions can
    receive an infant; however, many States require that staff receiving
    an infant be trained in emergency medical care.
   The safe haven provider is required to accept emergency
    protective custody of the infant and to provide any immediate
    medical care that the infant may require. In 10 States, when the
    safe haven receiving the baby is not a hospital, the baby must be
    transferred to a hospital as soon as possible.9 The provider is also
    required to notify the local child welfare department that an infant
    has been relinquished.
   In 21 States, the provider is required to ask the parent for family
    and medical history information.10 In 17 States, the provider is
    required to attempt to give the parent or parents information
    about the legal repercussions of leaving the infant and information
    about referral services.11 In four States (California, Connecticut,
    Delaware, and North Dakota), a copy of the infant's numbered
    identification bracelet may be offered to the parent as an aid to
    linking the parent to the child if reunification is sought at a later
   If the mother brings in the baby, she will be
    offered medical treatment and social services.
    She can, of course, refuse if she wishes.
   Once she has safely turned over the baby, she is
    free to go. The parents can later come forward
    to seek custody of the baby, but after 21 days,
    DYFS will initiate court proceedings to
    terminate parental rights and begin the
    adoption process.
   Safe haven providers are given protection from
    liability for anything that might happen to the
    infant while in their care, unless there is
    evidence of major negligence on the part of the
   The intent of Safe Haven is to protect
    unwanted babies from being hurt or killed
    because they were abandoned. Abandoning a
    baby puts the child in extreme danger and, too
    often, it results in the child's death. It is also
    illegal, with severe consequences.
   It may be difficult for a law to change the way
    a very frightened person may act, but the rate
    of infant abandonment dropped after the law
    was enacted. In the 12 months before Safe
    Haven was passed, eight babies were
    abandoned in public places. In the first 12
    months of Safe Haven, there were only two.
   As of August 2007, 33 newborns have been
    surrendered under Safe Haven. Other cases
    didn't qualify as Safe Haven babies for
    technical reasons, but nevertheless those babies
    are now safe because their mothers knew about
    the Safe Haven law.

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