Thursday, October 30, 2008
Nebraska Works To Fix Their Safe Haven Law
Gov. Dave Heineman said Wednesday he will call a special legislative session to fix a safe-haven law that in just a few months has allowed parents to abandon nearly two dozen children as old as 17.
The Governor had planned to wait until the next regular legislative session convened in January, but changed his mind as the number of children dropped off at hospitals grew. Two teenagers were abandoned Tuesday night alone, and three children dropped off previously did not even live in Nebraska.
"We've had five in the last eight days," Heineman said in explaining why he called a special session. "We all hoped this wouldn't happen."
The special session will begin Nov. 14. That's less than two months before the regular legislative session, but the governor and others see a need to act quickly.
Most Nebraska lawmakers have agreed upon revisions that would limit the law to newborns no older than 3 days.
It is believed that the parents aren't aware of services for older kids.
Todd Landry, director of the state's Children and Family Services division urged parents having trouble with their children to seek help from family, friends, neighbors and churches and, if need be, social services.
Tim Jaccard, president of the National Safe Haven Alliance, said age limits in safe-haven laws vary greatly. Aside from Nebraska's law, North Dakota's is the broadest, allowing children up to 1 year old to be abandoned.
"It's kind of a strange thing," said Jaccard, a police officer in New York's Nassau County. "If you were born in New York, you have five days. If you walk across the street (to Connecticut), you've got 30 days."Related Articles: