Department of Social Services, Building a Stronger Louisiana - Kristy H. Nichols, Secretary
 
 
For Immediate Release
July 14, 2009

Media Contact
Trey Williams
(225) 342-6700

Safe Haven Television Commercial Begins Statewide Run
Ad reminding parents of law will air through Labor Day

BATON ROUGE - A television commercial promoting Louisiana's Safe Haven law begins airing across the state today on network and cable stations.

The commercials reiterate that, through the Safe Haven law, parents who choose not to use an adoption agency and feel they can care for their newborn can relinquish the baby up to 31-days-old at any hospital, police or fire station with no questions asked.

"The Safe Haven law can save lives, but without education about its existence, it does little to help parents and babies," said Department of Social Services (DSS) Secretary Kristy Nichols.

The commercials, which were conceptualized by the DSS Office of Communications and External Affairs, are part of a larger media campaign that includes media interviews, a Web site (www.louisianasafehaven.com), brochures, posters, outdoor advertisements and a presence on popular social networking sites, including Facebook.

As well as the commercials, DSS will begin distributing Safe Haven informational brochures, poster and confidential information cards to DSS offices, community partners and Safe Haven locations. Also being sent to Safe Haven facilities is a yellow sticker to affix to the door to alert individuals that the building is a Safe Haven. Facilities can request materials at www.dss.louisiana.gov/safehavenmaterials.

DSS launched a public relations campaign to promote the Safe Haven law in February, after a mother abandoned her newborn in Kenner shortly after giving birth. Since the start of the campaign, two babies have been safely relinquished using the Safe Haven law.

The Safe Haven law provides a legal means for parents to give up custody of newborns without the threat of prosecution for neglect, abandonment or child cruelty.

"These 30 second commercials are designed to put the word out about Safe Haven and let young men and women know their options when faced with a newborn they feel they cannot care for," said Nichols.

You can view the commercials, which will run through Labor Day and were produced by Louisiana-based Wish Picture Shows, at www.louisianasafehaven.com.

More about Safe Haven
DSS implemented policies and procedures in 2004 relating to the state's Safe Haven law. In that time, ten infants have been successfully and safely relinquished to the state.

Safe Haven Cases since 2004

Date
Location
May 2004
Slidell area
November 2004
Lafayette area
April 2005
New Orleans area
May 2005
New Orleans area
June 2007
Lafayette area
July 2007
New Orleans area
September 2007
Shreveport area
October 2008
New Orleans area
March 2009
Lake Charles area
April 2009
Lake Charles area

Under the Safe Haven law, a parent may leave a baby up to 31-days-old in the care of an individual at a designated emergency care facility. The baby cannot be left unattended and must show no signs of abuse or neglect.

Louisiana's designated emergency care facilities are any licensed hospital, public health unit, emergency medical service provider, medical clinic, fire or police station, pregnancy crisis center or child advocacy center.

DSS recommends that parents who want to relinquish their newborns take the following steps:

  1. Locate the nearest emergency care facility (i.e. hospital, public health unit, any EMS unit, medical clinic, fire or police station, pregnancy crisis center or child advocacy center).
  2. Locate an employee with the facility, hand your child to them and state that you want to utilize Louisiana's Safe Haven law.
After the child is given up, he or she is taken for a medical checkup. The relinquishing parent is provided a card with a toll-free phone number (1-800-CHILDREN or 1-800-244-5373) to call and receive information about parental rights and provide anonymous information about the infant's medical and genetic history, if desired. A parent who wishes to initiate proceedings to reclaim custody of the child has 30 days to contact DSS.

Meanwhile, officials at the designated emergency care facility that received the child notify DSS. The Office of Community Services (OCS) begins the process to obtain legal custody of the child and to free the child for adoption.

According to the National Safe Haven Alliance, all 50 states have some form of Safe Haven provision.

For more information about the Safe Haven law, call 1-800-CHILDREN (1-800-244-5373), which is supported by Prevent Child Abuse Louisiana, or visit www.LouisianaSafeHaven.com.


 
   
627 N. Fourth St. | Baton Rouge, LA 70802 | PH: (225) 342-0286 | FX: (225) 342-8636 | www.dss.louisiana.gov



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