Nebraska tightens 'safe haven' age limit

30-day limit imposed after many parents abandoned teenagers

Associated Press, November 21, 2008

LINCOLN, Neb. - Gov. Dave Heineman signed into law Friday a bill adding a 30-day age limit to a safe-haven law that allowed 35 children — including teenagers as old as 17 — to be abandoned at state hospitals.

The law, approved hours earlier by the Legislature in a 45-3 vote, goes into effect Saturday, and makes Nebraska the 14th state with a 30-day age cap. It had been the only state with a safe-haven law without an age limit.

"I think this solves the immediate problem of adolescents being abandoned," said state Sen. Kent Rogert. "These kids are old enough to know they're being dropped off, and that's not good."

The law was meant to prevent newborns from being dumped in trash bins or worse.

But it has been used to abandon 35 children at state hospitals since July — many of them preteens or teenagers as old as 17.

Hospital officials have described children crying hysterically as they pleaded with their parents not to leave them.

Five of the children have been from other states, including from as far away as Florida and Michigan. The law was not revised to preclude infants from other states from being dropped off.

Heineman said the age limit should keep Nebraska from becoming a dumping ground for children from out of state and will refocus the law on lawmakers' original intent — to protect newborns.

Parents and guardians who have dropped off the kids have said they have done so because they thought they had nowhere else to turn.

Task force created

None of the children dropped off were infants — a point some child welfare advocates and others have said shows of a lack of public services to help troubled older youths.

Lawmakers have vowed to address the issue during the regular legislative session, which convenes in January, and have formed a task force to forge recommendations.

State officials deny there is a lack of services and have said some of the children were unnecessarily abandoned.

Most of the kids got help under Medicaid, the vast majority have received mental health services in the past, and only one of the 30 kids from Nebraska has required intensive treatment since being dropped off, state officials said.

Heineman softened the state's position some on Friday, but is not completely convinced that there is a problem.

"We may have a gap in services, but that's something we need to evaluate," he said. "We will cooperate fully with the committee," he said of the new legislative task force.

Plea for better services

Some parents who have stopped short of dropping off children say they sympathize with those who have.

Therese Guy of Papillion said she became a foster parent to a boy who had previously committed a sexual offense and it took nine months for him to get his mental problems diagnosed.

"It was just that booked up to get him into a center," she said earlier this week. "Don't change the safe-haven law until you have other changes in place, because it's helping kids now."

While there is an outcry by some lawmakers and child-welfare experts for the state to fix a safety net they say is broken, some question how much government can do to solve the problems.

"There are going to be things beyond our reach," said state Sen. Scott Lautenbaugh. "The government can't replace a parent."



"The government can't replace a parent."

But isn't that what the government is doing through adoption services?

"There are going to be

"There are going to be things beyond our reach," said state Sen. Scott Lautenbaugh. "The government can't replace a parent."

Yeah they shouldn't even try... especially while making it a paycheck to people... but the truth is with out that paycheck.. the government just simply can't get people to help them.

And that is the bottom line. And so by making this profitable they attract all the wrong kinds of people.... but will they stop? Nope, this demented experiment at best is getting them sued.... sued in the past... and they are racking up a body count that exceeds any WW we have had to date......

They have no idea what they are doing they seem to have no idea how many of us have got hurt or had our lives destroyed... or do they care how many of us they have gotten killed... or placed with pedophiles like what happened to myself and to so many others... while we sue the government fights us saying they have the right to do that to us and any other child they say so... and we don't have the right to challenge them....

If you ask me that looks like the definition for a phycopaths, not child protective services...

Pound Pup Legacy