There’s a safe alternative for overwhelmed parents who feel like they can’t take care of their newborn. It’s the Safe Haven program, a state-led initiative in which parents can safely surrender a baby at a hospital emergency room or police station.
The state Department of Children and Families recently announced a multi-pronged campaign to promote the Safe Haven program and make struggling parents aware that there are options available.
Under the state's Safe Haven Infant Protection Act, an individual can give up an unwanted baby safely, legally and anonymously as long as the child is unharmed. The law allows parents - or someone acting on their behalf – to legally and anonymously surrender an unwanted infant under 30 days old to any hospital emergency department or police station in New Jersey. Parents will be safe from prosecution if the baby has not been abused.
Sixty-two infants have been safely surrendered since the Safe Haven program was launched in August 2000, according to state officials.
New Jersey's hospital emergency departments are safety nets for the communities they serve. Usually that means providing care to the uninsured or others in need. And sometimes it means providing a safe place for the most vulnerable and peace of mind for desperate parents who feel like they have no other options.
For more information on New Jersey’s Safe Haven program, visit the DCF website at www.njsafehaven.org