StoryThe Metropolitan King County Council today accepted the report prepared by the task force created to examine ways of increasing awareness of options available for parents to legally and safely give up a newborn.
“This task force worked diligently and delivered a very detailed list of recommendations,” said Councilmember Reagan Dunn, lead sponsor of the motion that created the task force. “I look forward to working with my colleagues to determine the next steps in the hopes that we can help prevent future tragedies.”
“I’m grateful for the commitment of the task force members who produced this excellent report,” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert, co-sponsor of the motion. “Their good work will result in more people knowing about the options available to safely give up a newborn.”
The task force was created soon after the body of an infant was found wrapped in a blanket in the woods. Named Baby Kimball after the bridge near where she was discovered, the newborn was left less than a half a mile from a hospital near the city of North Bend.
The goal of the motion and task force is to save lives and provide options to parents who don’t know where to turn for help. The task force consisted of representatives from the Executive and Council, local cities, health care institutions, public health, the criminal justice system, human service agencies, and first responders.
The task force’s objective was to develop solutions to increase awareness of the Safety of Newborn Children Law. Adopted by the state Legislature in 2002, the law states that parents can leave newborns with qualified individuals at hospitals, fire stations or federally designated rural health clinics anonymously up to 72 hours after the birth of a child without fear of prosecution for abandonment.
“It was a challenging task to think of ways to best reach the individuals that need this information,” said Verna Seal, Task Force co-chair and a member of the Tukwila City Council. “We hope that the recommendations developed by the task force will kick start a new awareness of the state’s safety of newborn children law.”
“The state law regarding safety for newborns has been on the books for over ten years. The work done by the task force will help inform the King County community of its existence and how to use the law, thus saving additional lives in the future,” said task force co-chair Paul Cowles, President of Safe Place for Newborns. “The task force's recommendations will assist us in saving future lives. We want to thank the King County Council for establishing the task force to work on this important issue.”
The legislation asked the task force to provide the Council and the Executive recommendations that include:
• How the County can engage in a collaborative campaign on educating service providers and the public about the Safety of Newborn Children Law;
• Ways to work with the state to obtain useful, timely data on instances of safe transfer of newborns and newborn abandonment;
• Examining whether the program should expand through state legislation the locations where newborns can be accepted.
Among the options presented in the report:
• Building upon the efforts of local, state and national organizations and using existing resources and partnerships for educating the public about this law;
• Developing standardized training and brochures for educating providers, staff, families served by their agencies and people of influence about the Safety of Newborn Children law;
• Developing youth-centered public education messaging and marketing that uses popular culture and current technology, yet is also appropriate for culturally diverse audiences throughout King County;
• Incorporating Safe Haven information into the current sexual educational curriculum offered at public schools, colleges and universities, technical and trade schools, and the juvenile justice system.