Safe Haven Law back in spotlight after Denver-area baby's death - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Safe Haven Law back in spotlight after Denver-area baby's death

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Colorado law enforcement and human services leaders are reminding Coloradans about a law meant to protect unwanted newborns after a baby with its umbilical cord still attached was found dead Tuesday night in a Highlands Ranch backyard.  Camille Wasinger-Konrad, 23, was jailed without bond and could face first-degree murder charges for her child's death.

The circumstances surrounding the newborn's death have not been announced, but Colorado's Save Haven Law law allows parents to surrender a newborn in its first 72 hours of life, no questions asked and without criminal liability, if the baby is alive and healthy.  The law, enacted in 2000, has resulted in relinquishment of 56 infants.  "It's hard to imagine a mother would throw a baby away, but it happens," said Linda Prudhomme, Executive Director of the Centennial-based nonprofit Colorado Safe Haven for Newborns.  "These women isolate themselves, they hide their pregnancies, then they have this baby and it's just a crisis."

The law allows parents to hand a baby over to an employee at any fire station or hospital in the state.  "Our biggest concern is the safety and well-being of that child," said Colorado Springs Fire Department Captain Brian Vaughan.  "The parent does not have to give any information.  They don't have to give any information.  We try to gather it for the best medical scenario for the child or the abandoned baby so they continue the proper care, but beyond that, there is nothing we require of that adult."

According to statistics provided by Prudhomme, 13 relinquishments have occurred in El Paso County since the law was enacted in 2000, by far the largest number in the state.  Four babies have been surrendered in Denver, five in neighboring Arapahoe County, four in Mesa County on the Western Slope, and just one in Pueblo on Christmas Eve 2010, but in that case the mother changed her mind and took her baby back.

Once a baby is surrendered, a case file is started with the Department of Human Services and the child is placed into foster care, according to El Paso County DHS Child Protection Manager Krystal Grint.  "We'll advertise their information in the newspaper and give (the parent) an opportunity to come forward and be able to be involved and try and safely parent their child," Grint said.

"If there is a question about the caretaking ability of someone and a child is involved, bring them to the fire station," Vaughan said.  "We can help with those next steps, whatever those next steps may be."

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