Healthy Infant Surrendered to Safe Haven Site
Last month, a healthy newborn was brought to a Safe Haven site in New Jersey. It was the first Safe Haven surrender of 2022.
Due to confidentiality statutes and the promise of anonymity for the parent(s), the state will not share publicly the gender of the infant or the exact date and location of the surrender.
The Safe Haven law took effect in August 2000. It allows infants up to 30 days old, free of abuse or neglect, to be anonymously surrendered to the staff at hospital emergency rooms or police stations, fire stations, and ambulance or rescue squads that are staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Once cleared by a medical professional, surrendered infants are placed into an adoptive home through the Department of Children and Families’ (DCF) Division of Child Protection and Permanency.
“Many families face significant hardships such as food insecurity, housing instability, unemployment or underemployment, and now, Covid-related anxiety and stress for the future,” said DCF Commissioner Christine Norbut Beyer. “These factors and many others can impact a parent’s decision to surrender an infant. Whatever their reasons are, the Safe Haven law provides reliable and accepting spaces, with people who understand and respect the sensitive nature of these difficult, personal choices.”
New Jersey has a statewide Safe Haven public awareness campaign with regularly updated materials to raise awareness of the law, particularly among young women between the ages of 13 and 30.
Since the 2020 school year, New Jersey high schools have been teaching students about the Safe Haven law in health and physical education classes.
In addition, Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation designating September of every year as “Safe Haven Awareness Month.”
“Through our annual educational outreach and social media campaigns, we are reaching young parents where they are: online, at school, and in their community. It’s important that moms know that there is a place they can turn to, that is safe, legal, and with no questions asked, when they’re not ready to parent a newborn,” said Carmen Diaz-Petti, Deputy Commissioner of Administration. “Safe Haven Laws save lives – both the infant that’s surrendered and the young parent who may feel that they have nowhere else to turn.”
There have been 79 Safe Haven surrenders in New Jersey since the law was signed.
For more information, visit www.njsafehaven.org or call the Safe Haven Hotline at 1.877.839.2339.