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PA Department of Public Welfare Reminds New Parents About 'Safe Haven' Law
Date:10/15/2007

Law Offers Safe Place for Unwanted Babies, Prevents Abandonment

HARRISBURG, Pa., Oct. 15 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Department of Public Welfare Secretary Estelle B. Richman today reminded expectant parents and parents of newborns that Pennsylvania's safe haven law allows them to confidentially turn over unwanted infants, up to 28 days old, to any hospital as an alternative to abandonment.

On Oct. 10 in Sharon, Mercer County, a newborn girl was found in the foyer of an apartment building. According to police, the child did not appear to have been born in a hospital and there was no reported connection between the child and the building where she was abandoned. The baby is currently under the care of the county.

"While we are greatly relieved to learn that the girl was unharmed, this is exactly the kind of situation that our safe haven law was designed to prevent," said Public Welfare Secretary Estelle B. Richman. "When young women are not prepared for the responsibilities of parenthood, often they are afraid and are unsure of where to turn for help. We want them to know that there is a safe, legal and confidential option for them and their child."

There are nearly 270 hospitals in Pennsylvania where parents may safely surrender a baby if they fear they cannot care for the child. Babies can be handed over to any hospital staff member. If the parent is unwilling or unable to wait, they should look for signs instructing them where to place the baby. As long as the child is unharmed, the parents will not be asked any questions.

It is recommended, but not required, that the parent provide medical information for the child. A baby turned over to a Safe Haven hospital will receive necessary medical care. The county's child and youth agency will work to find the baby a loving family through the state's foster care system.

Pennsylvania is one of 48 states with a safe haven law. To date, five babies have been saved through the program.

To learn more about the safe haven program, visit http://www.secretsafe.org or call toll-free, 1-866-921-SAFE (7233).

The Department of Public Welfare (DPW) helps people meet their basic needs by providing health care and other critical support services for children, the elderly, people with chronic diseases, persons with disabilities and low income families and adults in Pennsylvania. DPW is dedicated to promoting, improving, and sustaining the quality of family life; breaking the cycle of dependency while protecting and serving Pennsylvania's most vulnerable citizens. Visit DPW on the Internet at: http://www.dpw.state.pa.us.

CONTACT: Stacey Witalec

(717) 787-4592


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SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare
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