Three recent reports of abandoned babies in the Valley have sparked conversations about safe haven laws and how they work.
Safe haven signs, often displayed in fire stations and other places, let people know it is acceptable to drop off a newborn, without criminal prosecution.
"If someone were to bring their baby to the station, right now, we will take it and treat the baby as a patient,” said Darien Gibson.
Gibson is a Glendale firefighter, but also an EMS coordinator for the Arizona Safe Baby Haven Foundation.
"It's tragic and these numbers keep growing,” added Gibson.
Safe haven advocates, like Gibson, urge people wanting to give up their newborn to call their anonymous hotline at 866-707-2229.
"If you bring us your baby, we are going to take care of it and have questions. If you don't want to ask, or answer them, fine. But, we are going take care of the baby,” added Gibson.
Arizona's safe haven law allows a newborn to be dropped off, without criminal prosecution, with:
- an on-duty firefighter or EMT,
- a licensed child welfare center or adoption agency,
- a church with a sign identifying it as a safe haven.
The foundation's board chair tells ABC15 the foundation has saved 55 babies in Arizona since 2001.
Gibson has spent a lot of time talking about safe haven laws and how the process works for someone wanting to hand over a newborn. The fire station where he works has not yet received one but has a safe haven bag ready in case it does.
But the foundation's goal, according to Gibson, is to offer options before accepting a baby.
Until last year, parents had only three days to think about giving up a newborn.
"So, now we have extended it to 30 days, moms have plenty of time to explore options and let us help them in many different ways,” added Gibson.
All 50 states and Washington, D.C. have some sort of safe haven law, which allows a person to legally surrender an infant at a safe facility like a hospital or fire station. For more information on Arizona's Safe Haven program, click here.