Parents use safe-haven law to abandon troubled children

Children abandoned by their parents into the care of the state of Nebraska have attracted worldwide attention as the state legislature reviews the safe-haven law that precipitated the problem. All states in the US have safe-haven laws, which are intended to prevent infanticide and unsafe abandonment of children. Nebraska passed its law in July this year but did not include an age limit. As a result, parents -- a few even from out of state -- began arriving at hospitals with children of all ages, one as old as 18. A total of 34 were received by the end of October, most pre-teens or teenagers.

Some parents claim they acted out of desperation to get help that they badly needed but was difficult to access. State officials say most of the families involved have had help under Medicaid and from mental health services, although only one of the 29 from Nebraska has required intensive treatment since being dropped off. Some had been living with relatives or others because the state had removed them from their homes in the past. Some came from homes with histories of drug abuse. Social workers worry that all of them will have lasting effects from being abandoned by their parents or guardians.

When children are abandoned, Nebraska’s Division of Children and Family Services assesses them to see whether they are in immediate danger of being harmed. A judge decides whether to send the children home or to keep them in the juvenile court system, during which time they would be place with relatives or foster care until the case is sorted out. ~ Wall Street Journal, Nov 12; AP/Google, Nov 18



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