Thursday, September 25th, 2008

The Morris County Department of Human Services is assisting the state in promoting the Safe Haven Infant Protection Law, which allows an individual to give up an unwanted infant with no fear of arrest or prosecution.

The county wants the public to know that under the Safe Haven law, a distressed parent who is unable or unwilling to care for an infant may give up custody of a baby that is up to 30 days old and shows no signs of abuse or neglect by taking the child to a local hospital or police station, with no questions asked.

An individual acting on the parents’ behalf may also bring the baby to a Safe Haven location, again with no questions asked. The child will be examined and given medical treatment, if needed, and will then be taken into custody by the New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services who will place the infant in a pre-adoptive home.

If the mother brings in the baby, she will be offered medical treatment and social services, which she may refuse if she wishes.

Morris County’s publicity effort is targeting all females of child-bearing age.

The county has informational posters and brochures about the Safe Haven Infant Protection Program that it will distribute to businesses, places of worship, libraries and other establishments that are willing to display the information.

Since the Safe Haven law was enacted in 2000, three infants have been safely surrendered in Morris County.

More information about the Safe Haven law may be obtained by calling the Safe Haven Hotline, 1-877-839-2339, or by visiting the Safe Have Web site, www.njsafehaven.org.

Any organization wanting to post or distribute Safe Haven information may contact Kellye Smith of the Morris County Department of Human Services at 973-285-6864.