As Safe Haven Awareness Month concludes, four additional infant surrenders signal a significant increase in the program's utilization in Morris County and across New Jersey.
Morristown, NJ — The Department of Children and Families (DCF) has reported a noticeable uptick in the number of newborns surrendered at New Jersey Safe Haven sites, bringing the 2023 total to eight—the highest yearly count since 2006. These surrenders, recorded in April, May, and August, coincide with the state's ongoing efforts to raise awareness of the Safe Haven law.
DCF Commissioner Christine Norbut Beyer indicated that the increase in surrenders is most likely due to heightened public awareness.
“Usually, we receive three or four Safe Haven surrenders a year,” DCF Commissioner Christine Norbut Beyer said. “To have eight already this year shows that public awareness of the Safe Haven law has likely increased. Teaching Safe Haven in schools, designating September as ‘Safe Haven Awareness Month,’ and our department’s social and digital media campaigns are all helping to get the message out about this life-saving program.”
Educational programs in schools, digital campaigns, and September's designation as Safe Haven Awareness Month have collectively played a role in informing the public about this life-saving initiative.
Since its enactment in 2000, New Jersey's Safe Haven Law permits the anonymous surrender of infants up to 30 days old at staffed hospitals, police stations, fire stations, and ambulance or rescue squads. These facilities are operational around the clock. Following medical clearance, the DCF Division of Child Protection and Permanency places the surrendered infants into adoptive homes.
“Preparing to give birth can be a scary time for anyone, especially for individuals in unsafe homes or relationship situations, or who may be feeling alone, unready, or unsupported,” said Laura Jamet, Assistant Commissioner of DCF’s Division of Child Protection and Permanency. “Surrendering a newborn is a deeply personal and difficult decision, and in New Jersey it can be done with no shame, no blame and no names. No questions asked.”
Earlier this month, Governor Phil Murphy signed a bill to extend the Safe Haven Infant Protection Act. The newly expanded law allows mothers delivering at licensed general hospitals to choose to surrender their newborn while maintaining anonymity. It also grants civil and criminal immunity to all hospital employees, ensuring that any adult worker can accept a surrendered infant.
The signing of this expanded legislation aligns with the annual Safe Haven Awareness Month, observed every September. Since its inception in 2000, 90 infants have been safely surrendered through New Jersey’s Safe Haven program. Owing to confidentiality regulations, the state does not disclose the infants' sexes or the exact dates and locations of their surrenders.
For those seeking more information on the Safe Haven law or looking for support, visit www.njsafehaven.org
or contact the Safe Haven Hotline at 1-877-839-2339.