Report Highlights Success of Safe Surrender Program

Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe hailed a new investigative report today that highlights the successes of the County’s Safe Surrender Program. The just-released Safely Surrendered and Abandoned Babies Report by the Inter-Agency Council on Child Abuse and Neglect (ICAN) shows that the 72-hour Safe Surrender window has seen continued success, while the number of newborn abandonments in Los Angeles County continues to decline.

The ICAN report shows that during 2001, the first year of the Safe Surrender Program, there was not a single surrender in Los Angeles County. During the same year, 14 newborns were abandoned in the County. The number of annual abandonments has fallen since that first year in 2001, while the number of surrenders continues to grow. Eight newborns have already been surrendered in 2007, while only one abandonment occurred during the same period. All told, 55 newborns have been surrendered since the inception of the program.

Unfortunately, despite the positive numbers outlined in the ICAN report, the success of Safe Surrender is again threatened for the second time in only two years, said Supervisor Knabe. Lawmakers in the California State Assembly are debating a Bill that would do far more harm than good to Safe Surrender. Assembly Bill 81 (AB 81) would change the time to anonymously surrender a newborn from 72 hours to 30 days.

The ICAN report also revealed that of the newborn abandonments studied, not one abandonment occurred between 72 hours and 30 days after the child’s birth. All the abandonments happened within the first 72 hours of life.

This report is the latest evidence that shows 72 hours works, said Supervisor Knabe. The ICAN report reveals that the first hours of life are the most critical for a newborn that may be abandoned. The research shows that there is no evidence that moving the surrender window from 72 hours to 30 days will be of any benefit. We need to keep the focus where it belongs, on the first critical hours of life.