Hospital staff, law enforcement, and others are hoping Arkansas citizens can help protect infants by spreading the word about the Safe Haven Law.
Every state has a Safe Haven Law to protect babies from being injured or killed from unsafe abandonment. The Safe Haven Law allows a parent to anonymously bring a child that is less than 30 days old to an employee at a designated Safe Haven Location or to a newborn safety device. Safe Haven Locations include hospital emergency rooms, law enforcement agencies, and fire departments. Newborn safety devices (also called baby boxes) are devices installed in fire departments or hospitals that are electronically monitored and equipped with a silent alarm that notifies authorities as soon as the door is opened and the baby is placed inside.
The baby box closest to Columbia County is at the El Dorado Fire Department Station 2, 1403 East Hillsboro Street.
Abandoning a baby is illegal and puts the infant in danger that can result in the baby's death. With the Safe Haven Law, babies can be surrendered anonymously without parental repercussions. The purpose of the Safe Haven Law is to protect babies from being hurt or killed from unsafe abandonment. Abandoning a baby is illegal and puts the infant in extreme danger that can result in the baby's death. With the Safe Haven Law, a baby can be safely given to a staff member of a safe haven location or placed in a baby box.
Mothers are not required to give any information when surrendering their infant, however any information that is given can be useful in caring for the child. These questions can be answered anonymously on a medical questionnaire that is available online or at the safe haven location. Once a baby is relinquished, the Department of Human Services will place the child in a home.
Surrendering a newborn to a safe haven location brings no shame, no blame, and no names. Call 1-866-99BABY1 (1-866-992-2291) for more information.
The Arkansas Safe Haven law was passed in 2001, allowing mothers to surrender children at hospital emergency rooms or police departments. Manned fire stations were added to the locations in 2019.
According to the Arkansas Department of Human Services, the state law allows a parent to bring a child who is 30-days-old or younger to the locations, "or a designated newborn safety device (often called a baby box) location anonymously and without facing prosecution for endangering or abandoning a child."