Preventing Child Abuse in Montgomery County

County Executive Reminds Public of ‘Safe Haven’ Law (Photos & Video)

County Executive Ike Leggett announced a public education campaign to remind residents about Maryland’s Safe Haven Law, which provides an alternative to abandoning an unwanted newborn.

Leggett made the announcement at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital and was joined by Adventist Healthcare’s president William G. Robertson, as well as Dr. Gaurov Dayal, Shady Grove’s chief medical officer and a pediatrician, and County child welfare officials in honor of Child Abuse Prevention Month.

The Safe Haven law permits the birth mother or a responsible adult to take an unharmed newborn to a local hospital or a Montgomery County or Maryland State police station, within 10 days of a baby’s birth without fear of criminal prosecution or civil liabilities.

“Not all women who get pregnant are prepared to raise a child,” Leggett said. “The Safe Haven Law provides a safe and healthy alternative for mothers who may feel frightened, alone and unable to care for a child.”

Flyers describing the law and providing a phone number for the County’s child abuse and neglect hotline are being distributed this month to hospital emergency rooms, libraries, restaurants and other businesses throughout the community.

“Providing care to infants whose parents make the very difficult and brave decision to turn them over to a safe haven during their early days of life is one example of how we improve the health of our community,” said William G. Robertson, president and CEO of Adventist HealthCare. “When a safe haven baby is brought to one of our hospitals, we are not only caring for the baby; we are also helping parents who have realized that they cannot adequately care for their child.”

The mother or adult leaving the baby with authorities is not required to provide any information, although basic medical information about the child is helpful. If necessary, medical care will be provided to the child who will be placed in a licensed foster home while the legal process of adoption begins.

In the past year, six infants have been placed for adoption in Montgomery County’s under the Safe Haven program. Several newborns were abandoned in the region during the past year.

“There are many families in Montgomery County who can provide warm, loving homes to children and who are ready to take infants,” said Agnes Leshner, administrator for Child Welfare Services, part of the Department of Health and Human Services.

For more information, call Child Welfare Services at 240-777-4417. All calls are confidential.

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