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Danbury State Officials, Danbury Hospital Push for Safe Haven Awareness

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DANBURY- State Reps. Steve Harding (R-107), Michael Ferguson (R-138), and Will Duff (R-2) along with Danbury Hospital officials and the United Way of Western Connecticut are urging for greater public awareness of the state’s Safe Haven law, which designates hospital emergency rooms as a location where newborn babies can be safely relinquished, no questions asked. The law protects parents from being prosecuted for abandonment and ensures the infant will be safe and receive adequate care.

From (L-R)State Reps. Michael Ferguson (R-138), Will Duff (R-2), Rep. Stephen Harding (R-107), Matt Cassavechia, the Director of Danbury Emergency Medical Services, and Dawn Martin, Director of Patient Care Services, highlight April 4th as Safe Haven Day.

“It is critical for everyone throughout our state to be aware of our Safe Haven laws,” Rep. Harding said. “Countless newborn lives have been and will continue to be saved simply through raising awareness.”

Rep. Ferguson said,” “This law can save lives; Having a Safe Haven Awareness Day permits us to help distressed parents know about the law, which can prevent dire consequences, including arrest for infant abandonment. In this way, Safe Haven really saves two lives, especially as it preserves the anonymity of all parties concerned.”

Matt Cassavechia, the Director of Danbury Emergency Medical Services, Dawn Martin, Director of Patient Care Services at Danbury and New Milford Hospitals and Kim Morgan, the Chief Executive Officer at United Way of Western Connecticut were in attendance at the Safe Haven press conference.

Rep. Duff said, “Life is so precious, having a Safe Haven Law permits newborn babies to have a chance at life, without any negative impact on the parents. Please if you are in distress utilize the services available at Danbury Hospital.”
All three Danbury legislators are supporting a bill in the General Assembly would teach students in public schools instruction relating to the Safe Haven Act. Rep. Ferguson voted in favor of the bill in the Education Committee.

The law hits close to home after a 2017 incident in which a woman left a newborn baby boy abandoned behind a Danbury grocery store. State officials want to make sure all residents know the details of the Safe Haven law and how the law protects parents.

Here is how Connecticut’s Safe Haven law 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.
  • DCF 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 DCF with a person licensed to provide foster or adoptive care.

Since its passage in 2000, Connecticut’s Safe Haven law has saved 27 infants from abandonment and near certain death. The parents, too, of these infants have been saved from possible incarceration and a life overshadowed by the crime of neonaticide, committed in a moment of panic. The person dropping off the baby — whether it’s the infant’s mother, father, grandparents or a family friend — will be given a bracelet matching one put on the infant by hospital staff. The police will not be called and no one will be arrested, assuming the infant has not been abused. If the parents of the child change their minds within 30 days, they may petition to get the baby back.
To learn about becoming a foster or adoptive parent, please call 888-KID-HERO or visit www.ctfosteradopt.com.