Many states including Tennessee and Illinois have designated April 3, 2007 as Safe Haven Day. The purpose of Safe Haven Day is to prevent infant abandonment by increasing awareness as well as providing information and education about Safe Haven Law. In New Jersey, April is designed as Child Abuse Prevention Month, and Safe Haven Law is one of the focuses this year.
The New Jersey Safe Haven Infant Protection Act allows a person to give up an unwanted infant anonymously. As long as the baby has not been abused, the person may do so without fear of arrest or prosecution.
The purpose of Safe Haven is to prevent babies being hurt or killed because they were abandoned. Abandoning a baby puts the infant in extreme danger.
Each abandoned infant whether found dead, found alive or never found at all represents a profound social failure. Each incident of infant abandonment diminishes all of us. This failure is not just that of an individual, but rather of a society as whole. In an instance involving an adolescent girl, it means not only a failure on the part of the young mother, but also a failure on the part of the family, the community, the school system, health care providers, government and others who have not provided the necessary supports.
Under New Jersey’s Safe Haven Infant Protection Act, a distressed parent who is unable or unwilling to care for any infant can give up custody of a baby less than 30 days old by bringing the baby to a hospital emergency room or police station in New Jersey.
Although the person dropping off the baby is not required to give any information about the baby, any information they are willing to share about the baby’s medical and family history is welcome and will be very useful in caring for the baby.
Surrendered babies are examined by a health care provider and receive any needed medical treatment. The Division of Youth and Family Services takes custody and places the baby in a foster or pre-adoptive home.
For more information about Safe Haven in New Jersey call the Safe Haven Hotline, 1-877-839-2339. For more information about what is being done nationally, visit www.nationalsafehavenalliance.org.
Let’s all help get the word out about New Jersey’s Safe Haven Infant Protection Act and help keep babies safe!
President & CEO/Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
Hudson Cradle, Inc.