Safe Haven Awareness DayApril 4, 2019
Alongside Department of Education Commissioner Dianna Wentzell, Department of Children and Families Commissioner Vannessa Dorantes, fellow legislators, and key stakeholders, I had the opportunity to gather a press conference Thursday morning to promote April 4th as “Safe Haven Awareness Day.”
Modeled after an existing Texas law, Connecticut adopted Safe Haven legislation in 2000. Offering relief to distressed parents, Safe Haven allows a parent to release an infant, 30 days or younger, to any hospital ER in the state. The parent does not have to provide any personal information and will not be criminally prosecuted for abandonment.
From there, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) is contacted and they place the infant with a licensed foster family. Parents have 30 days to reconsider, if they decide they’d like the child back, reunification is possible; if not, DCF moves forward with the termination of parental rights to begin the adoption process.
Commissioner Dorantes remarked, “Since the law took effect in October 2000, 35 Safe Haven babies have been brought to an emergency room under the law. So, roughly two babies each year have been saved from a possibly horrible outcome. That proves not the just worth of the law but the significant impact collaborative efforts between legislators, state agencies and the public can have to protect society’s most vulnerable children.”
“Safe Haven truly does save two lives, and the positive ripple effects that can result from it are truly amazing,” said Rep. Currey. “I can’t thank Commissioner Wentzell and Dorantes enough for their leadership, their agency worker for their efforts, and the hospital staff who are the first step of this lifesaving process.”
Since Safe Haven’s inception, the working group that was formed felt there needed to be more done to promote the law’s existence and last year HB 5446 was passed to include Safe Haven as a part of the health curriculum in high schools. Since its inception in Connecticut, 35 babies have been left with Safe Haven – the last was in Nov. of 2018.