Sussex County Promotes Safe Haven Release Date: August 01, 2008
Sussex County Promotes Safe Haven
The Sussex County Department of Human Services received funding this year in the amount of $10,000.00 from the NJ Department of Children and Families to promote the Safe Haven Infant Protection Act. Safe Haven allows a parent(s) or representative to give up custody of an unwanted infant no more than 30 days old, safely, legally and anonymously at either a police station or a hospital emergency room. From the years 1991 to 1998, there was a 62% increase in infants being abandoned in public places. Sadly, out of 105 abandoned infants in the year 1998, 33 were found dead. Enacted in 2000, Safe Haven’s purpose is to prevent unwanted babies from being injured or killed because of abandonment. As of August 2007, 33 infants have been surrendered in New Jersey.
Sussex County’s grant application consisted of two components: a public awareness campaign of the law and the integration of the law into existing local child abuse prevention efforts. To start, Safe Haven literature and posters were distributed to over 900 member businesses of the Sussex County Chamber of Commerce, local hospitals, and various human service agencies. Throughout the year, Safe Haven print ads will run in the NJ Herald and 490,000 Safe Haven placemat print ads were purchased for nine local diners and restaurants. A professional consultant was hired to create a Safe Haven Public Service Announcement which will be distributed to all local media outlets. Additionally, POD Digital Promotions, LLC has incorporated the Safe Haven ad into their advertisements currently running on their digital billboards in four local diners and restaurants as a donation.
Recognizing April as “Child Abuse Prevention Month,” the Department of Human Services worked with the Keep Kids Safe Council, a partnership with the United Way of Sussex County, on distributing over 3,000 calendars promoting child abuse prevention and providing parents and community members with parenting tips, resources, and fun ways to interact with their children. On May 29, 2008, a Safe Haven and child abuse prevention conference was held for professionals working with women of childbearing age in Sussex County, including medical staff, child care staff, agency staff, etc. This insightful conference was attended by 80 people who then walked away with tips on how they can get involved in preventing child abuse on many different levels.
Sussex County took an active role in getting the Safe Haven message out there to the community that this is an option for distressed parents who simply cannot take care of their newborn. Hopefully, this initiative will save lives. For more information or to get involved, please contact the S.C. Division of Community and Youth Services at (973) 948-6000 ext. 226 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.