Safe Haven Law provides safe, legal, alternative to abandonment
BATON ROUGE - A newborn baby left in a garbage can in a Walmart bathroom is doing better and has been taken off oxygen, according to police in New Roads.
The mother, 34-year-old Kyandrea Thomas is in jail, accused of giving birth and dumping her baby in the trash.
The Department of Children and Family Services says what happened Friday could have been prevented, and Louisiana's Safe Haven law could have kept Thomas out of jail.
The law says, if a parent is unable to care for their baby, or the baby's well being is in danger, that parent can bring the newborn to a safe haven site, no questions asked.
The baby, up to 60 days old, must be left with an employee at a designated emergency care facility and tell that employee they want to utilize the Safe Haven Law.
"The main purpose of this law is to save children's lives," said DCFS Secretary Marketa Walters.
A "designated emergency care facility" includes any of the following:
- Licensed Hospitals
- Public Health Units
- Emergency Medical Service Providers
- Medical Clinics
- Fire Stations
- Police Stations
- Crisis Pregnancy Centers
- Child Advocacy Centers
"Kids can have a great life," Walters said. "They just need that opportunity, and that means that mom has to be selfless enough to be able to give that child to a safe place."
As long as the baby shows no signs of abuse or neglect, the parent will be protected by the Safe Haven Law and not be guilty of a criminal act. They will also know their baby is safe.
Since the law has been enacted, 45 children have been surrendered safely and adopted in Louisiana.
Call 1-800-CHILDREN (1-800-244-5373) for more information regarding the Safe Haven Law or contact your local DCFS office.