Baby Blue Foundation Introduces National Safe Haven Sign to NJ

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On December 4, 2008, the Baby Blue Foundation along with the Ventnor Police, Atlantic County hospitals, and the National Safe Haven Alliance will introduce the first National Safe Haven signs to New Jersey.

The last two states to enact Safe Haven laws, Alaska and Nebraska adopted such laws in 2008. Nebraska's law has received substantial media coverage due to its failure to limit the surrender age of children protected under the law. In November, Nebraska revised the law limiting the age to 30-days, the same as New Jersey.

However, the laws vary in age limits and legal surrender locations from state to state. These variations can create confusion for young women who often are in a position of panic after delivery of their newborn.

"These are not women who are getting regular prenatal care and planning for the delivery of their newborn. They are women who have fallen through the cracks. They have spent 9-months concealing and denying their pregnancy. They are unprepared for the imminent arrival of their baby," says Susan Ferrier Co-founder and Vice President of the Baby Blue Foundation.

On December 4, 2008, the Baby Blue Foundation along with the Ventnor Police, Atlantic County hospitals, and the National Safe Haven Alliance will introduce the first National Safe Haven signs to New Jersey.

"We selected this date because it marks the 4-year anniversary of the day my husband Bill and I, along with the support of the community lay Baby Blue to rest," says Susan. Blue's body along with the afterbirth and presumable the mother's undergarment stuffed in a sack washed up on a Ventnor beach in January 2004. It was Bill Ferrier who found her. He felt it important that she have a name and a proper burial. He and Susan began taking steps to see that it happened. It was 10-1/2 months before the Ferrier's were able to fulfill their promise to Blue.

Since then the Ferrier's founded a 501c3 whose mission is to honor the memory of Baby Blue and others like her through efforts to prevent future newborn abandonment and fatalities. The Foundation raises awareness about the prevalence, causes and alternatives to neonaticide (the killing of a newborn within the first 24-hours of life). Finally, in the event of future newborn deaths from abandonment or violence, the group seeks to provide dignified memorial service.

In its efforts to prevent new cases of newborn death and abandonment, the Baby Blue Foundation promotes awareness about the NJ Safe Haven Act. According to Susan, "the Foundation strongly supports Safe Haven legislation. It is the best, and in some cases possibly the only alternative for these young women."

The New Jersey Safe Haven Act went into effect in 2000. Since the laws inception, 37 babies have been safely surrendered. While the number of safe surrenders surpasses the 28 newborns left in unsafe conditions or found dead, more needs to be done to raise awareness of Safe Haven Laws and to minimize confusion about the laws.

The National Safe Haven signs were designed to uniformly identify Safe Haven surrender sites. Hospital emergency rooms and police departments are the only legal surrender sites in NJ. A parent or designee can anonymously surrender a child under 30-days old to any police department or emergency room employee.

New Jersey's first National Safe Haven sign will be unveiled Thursday Dec. 4 at 1pm. outside the Ventnor Police Department, located at 6201 Atlantic Ave., Ventnor. A representative from each Atlantic County hospital will receive a National Safe Haven sign to hang outside their emergency room. In addition to the hospital representatives, Ventnor Police Chief Wayne Arnold and Tracey Johnson, executive director of the National Safe Haven Alliance will be in attendance.

"We are excited to be spearheading the initiative to uniformly identify Safe Haven surrender sites in NJ but also through out the country," Susan explains. NJ joins NY, IL, AZ, FL, VA and ME in the effort to create standardization.

Other hospital emergency rooms or police departments who would like to hang a National Safe Haven outside their facility should contact the Baby Blue Foundation at 609-703-4180. The Baby Blue Foundation is a NJ 501c3 accepting donations at P.O. Box 2408, Ventnor, NJ 08406 or online at http://www.babybluefoundation.org.

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SUSAN FERRIER