HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Governor Dannel Malloy and Department of Children and Families Commissioner (DCF) Joette Katz are urging for greater public awareness of the state’s Safe Haven law, which designates hospital emergency rooms as a location where newborn babies can be safely relinquished, no questions asked. The law protects parents from being prosecuted for abandonment and ensures the infant will be safe and receive adequate care.
The state officials said that the abandonment of a baby in downtown Danbury this week reflects the need to grow greater public awareness of this law in order to prevent tragedy.
“This case really drives home the point that we all need to do more to raise awareness that no parent needs to take such drastic risk with the life of a newborn,” Governor Malloy said. “Connecticut has a safe, no-questions-asked option for parents who feels overwhelmed and unable to provide care to a baby.”
“It is a very difficult and courageous act for a parent who cannot take care of his or her infant to bring that baby to a hospital emergency department,” Commissioner Katz said. “We need to educate the public on an ongoing basis about the existence of the Safe Haven law because every year there emerges a new group of parents who may not have been exposed to earlier messages about the law and how it works.”
This week’s case in Danbury is the fifth time a baby has been dangerously abandoned since the Safe Haven law took effect in Connecticut in 2000. Since its enactment, there have been 31 babies safely brought to hospital emergency departments and taken into proper care by the state utilizing the law. All of those babies have since been adopted, except in one instance in which the family of one of the parents came forward to care for the child.
Governor Malloy said, “This law works. The babies are protected and are safely and permanently cared for in a loving family. We are asking everyone – the media, hospital officials, and others – to help spread the word that this law exists. No baby should ever be abandoned. There is an option available for parents to do the right thing.”
Here is how Connecticut’s Safe Haven law works:
The law enables a parent to bring an infant 30 days or younger to a hospital emergency room and avoid prosecution for abandonment.
A nurse will ask the parent for their name and for medical information on the infant and parent. The parent does not have to provide that information.
DCF will obtain custody and place the baby with a family who is already licensed and intends to adopt the baby.
Safe Haven babies are placed into homes with families that adopt the child. In one instance, a Safe Haven baby was placed into a permanent home of a relative.
DCF will provide support to the baby’s new family while terminating the biological parent’s parental rights so that the adoption can become final.
Connecticut law requires that a child can only be placed by DCF with a person licensed to provide foster or adoptive care.
To learn about becoming a foster or adoptive parent, please call 888-KID-HERO or visit www.ctfosteradopt.com.