Riley Promotes Safe Havens Awareness

April 4, 2016

Representative Emmett D. Riley thanks the staff of William W. Backus Hospital for making it a Safe Havens hospital.

Representative Riley thanked the Backus medical staff during a press conference Monday during Safe Havens Awareness Day for making the hospital “a safe area.”

Three infants have been taken to Safe Havens hospitals this year alone. According to the state Department of Children and Families, those three Safe Haven babies bring the total number of babies potentially saved from infant abandonment to 27 since the law was enacted about 15 years ago.

In all but one case, the babies were placed into homes where they were eventually adopted. In the other case, the infant was placed with family members. However, officials believe that a number of other infants’ lives could have been saved by more public awareness of the Safe Haven law.

“We are prepared to take any patient, and we want to assure the parents of these children that if you utilize this service your child will be taken care off,” said Karen Butterworth-Erban, Backus clinical director of emergency services.

For those who are struggling, “It is an incredible act to give over your child to a hospital,” said Dr. William Horgan, director of Norwich Emergency Services. “That Backus Hospital is a beacon of safety makes me incredibly proud.

“This is not just a public safety initiative, but a social and healthcare initiative,” said Hospital President Dr. Bimal Patel.

The Department of Children and Families recently released the following information about how the Safe Haven Act 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.
  • The department 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 the department with a person licensed to provide foster or adoptive care.