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Shelby County Safe Haven Awareness Initiative

Shelby County Safe Haven Awareness Initiative. Safe Haven Hotline 1-877-768-3473. Presented by the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.

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Shelby County Safe Haven Awareness Initiative

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  1. Shelby County Safe HavenAwareness Initiative Safe Haven Hotline 1-877-768-3473 Presented by the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office

  2. The Safe Haven law that passed in 2001 provides a place where a mother can safely surrender her infant to those who have the ability to provide medical attention or care for a child. What does the Safe Haven Law Provide? Benefits of the law: • No prosecution • Remain anonymous

  3. Voluntarily surrender Mothers must voluntarily bring their infant to a designated Safe Haven. Criteria for Surrendering a babyto a Safe Haven • 72 hours • the child must be 72 hours old or less. • Unharmed • Infants must not show signs of abuse.

  4. Bring awareness to Shelby County of the Tennessee Safe Haven Law. Purpose of the Safe Haven Law and this Initiative • Decrease the number of babies abandoned in unsafe places.

  5. Seek funding and promote public awareness of the law. Provide support to Safe Haven facilities to create policies and procedures concerning the law. Role of Shelby County Sheriff’s Office • Develop the Safe Haven Awareness Program.

  6. Respond to calls for help. Determine the nearest Safe Haven facility. Transport mother and child if necessary. Role of Rural/Metro EMSA Shelby County Safe Haven Sponsor • Maintain a 24-hr. hotline.

  7. We are asking hospitals and clinics to support this initiative by: Establishing appropriate policies and procedures. Train employees. Educate the public by placing brochures, posters and signs in visible locations. Role of hospitals and clinics • Hospitals and clinics are designated as Safe Havens under Tennessee State Law. • As a Safe Haven you are required to perform any act necessary to protect the physical health and/or safety of the child.

  8. The Sheriff’s Office will provide the following initial materials at no cost to medical facilities: Brochures Posters Safe Haven facility signs for outdoor use What materials will be provided to your facility?

  9. Can someone other than the mother bring the infant to the Safe Haven? No. The mother must bring the infant herself so that health care workers will know that the decision was made by the mother and she was not pressured to give up the infant. Questions Concerning the Law

  10. Questions Concerning the Law • Who can receive the infant at a medical facility? • The law states that “any facility employee” or “member of the professional medical community” may receive possession of a newborn left on facility premises.

  11. Questions Concerning the Law • Can facility employees ask for the identity of the mother? • The law states that whenever possible, the facility shall seek the identity of the mother and father, but the facility is required by law to inform her that she is not required to respond. • If the identity is given, the facility must keep the information confidential and is only allowed to provide it to DCS.

  12. Questions Concerning the Law • Should we try to obtain a medical history? • Whenever possible, seek to obtain a medical history, and explain that this will help to facilitate the adoption process. • If she will not provide the medical history, try to give her a form that she can fill out and mail it in.

  13. Questions Concerning the Law • What should the facility do once they have received the infant? • Examine the infant as they would any other newborn child in order to determine age and well-being. • The facility must contact the Department of Children’s Services no later than 24 hours after receiving the infant but not before the mother leaves the premises.

  14. Frequently Asked Questions • What if the child appears to be older than 72 hours? • Inform the mother that she may not be protected under the current law. • Let her know of other alternatives such as contacting DCS directly to begin the adoption process. • If she still wishes to surrender the infant, receive the child and follow normal procedures and contact law enforcement.

  15. Frequently Asked Questions • What do we do if the child appears to have been intentionally harmed? • First, provide appropriate medical treatment, if needed. • Rural/Metro EMS will transport the child to the nearest hospital. • Contact law enforcement and inform them of the situation. • Contact DCS immediately.

  16. Frequently Asked Questions • What should we tell mothers who have questions concerning the adoption process or terminating parental rights? • Explain that DCS will take custody of the child soon after she leaves the facility. • The mother has the right to change her mind and can reclaim her baby. • It is recommended that she make some contact with DCS within 30 days if she thinks she has made a mistake.

  17. You can tell her that DCS is required to run Notice in a newspaper within 10 days describing the infant, and when and where the baby was surrendered. This allows the father the opportunity to claim paternity or for the mother to revoke her decision. The Department of Children’s Services has a number of procedures so it is best to tell the mother to contact DCS to get the most accurate information. Continued

  18. Discussion

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