A 14-year old Iowa girl was abandoned at an Omaha hospital under Nebraska’s safe haven law. She is the 17th child and the first from another state to be abandoned since July when the law first took effect.
The girl is from Council Bluffs Iowa, said The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.
Safe haven laws were originally designed for a mother to relinquish custody of her infant at a safe and secure location if she was unable to care for the baby, without fear of prosecution. But the state law includes the word “child” and fails to specify any ages.
That means that in Nebraska, someone up to the age of 19, still considered a minor, could be dropped off.
State lawmakers are discussing amending the laws including adding an age limit. The Legislature’s judiciary and health and human services committees plan to hold a joint public hearing on the safe-haven law on November 13.
In this case, because the child is from Iowa, not Nebraska, the safe haven laws legal protection may not apply.
Whoever abandoned her might be prosecuted in that state, said Todd Landry, director of the department’s division of Children and Family Services.
“We have made a formal abandonment report to the Iowa child abuse hotline,” Landry said. “We are working with Iowa Department of Human Services to resolve the situation in a timely manner.”
The situation is being investigated by officials and few details of the Iowa girl’s abandonment were known as of Tuesday, said a Nebraska HHS spokeswoman.
A spokeswoman for Creighton Hospital said she didn’t know the details of the child’s abandonment. In most cases, hospital officials call police and turn the child over after they have been left.
The case receiving the most coverage is of a father of nine who dropped 9 of his 10 children off at the emergency room at the Creighton University Medical Center in Omaha last month.
His life just “fell apart”.
That’s the word from out-of-work widower Gary Staton who spoke to KETV –TV Omaha, about why he abandoned his nine children at a hospital under Nebraska’s new safe haven law.
“I hope they know I love them,” he said. “I hope their future is better without me around them.”
Many pre-teens and teenagers that have been left by families at Nebraska hospitals over the last several weeks have severe behavioral problems or mental illness, according to Omaha World-Herald.
Several of the families sought help for out-of-control or violent kids, and were met unsuccessfully, reports the newspaper.
The debate now centers on the sufficiency of services available for families that have troubled kids. Advocates claim, a lack of resources prevents families from receiving the help they need. #