I am watching a long line form as people gather in hearing room 1525 at the State Capitol. The line is to sign up and speak at this hearing on the Safe Haven law in Nebraska. Senators will be hearing testimony on two bills introduced. One of the bills calls for a limit of 72 hours for a newborn baby to be dropped off at a Nebraska hospital. The other bill has a limit of one year. The Safe Haven Law has been under scrutiny as it currently only includes the word child. At least 34 children have been abandoned since the law took effect in July. Click refresh for the latest on this story.
Sen Brad Ashford – Hearing will last until 5pm, after that decision will be made on length of hearing. He says the issues relating to older children will be taken up in January.
Speaker Mike Flood reviews bills. (audio 81 and 82) Says reasonable people can differ on age limit.
Senator Annette Dubas (83)- currently there are 186,000 uninsured Nebraskans. We are in the midst of a crisis. This is a crisis where children and the most vulnerable are being swept under the rug, perhaps current safe haven system is more right than wrong. She says her bill has two parts one for children up to age one, the other for children up to age 16, those children would be referred to safe haven team of professionals to help the older child. Services are being cut, but we cannot ignore the problems. (83 7:48)
Todd Landry – HHS (84)
Safe Haven law not meant for older kids. If children not in immediate danger, there are other resources for parents to consider. The current safe haven law has had unintended consequences. Available community services are there for parents. He is in favor of 72 hour law.
Sen Amanda Mcgill attacks Landry saying he groups all parents of Safe Haven kids together and says he does not return phone calls of parents. (87 10:00) Landry says some of the calls were returned by his staff. Landry days some parents have said they want nothing to do with the child they dropped off.
Sen Diane Schimek concerned about names being released. Landry says court records are of public record. She has heard a rumor some parents will face charges. Landry says some parents will be charged if there was neglect or abuse before the drop off.(90 :59)
Sen Ernie Chambers says if there is any fault, it is with the law itself. Landry agrees. Chambers says if the child fears an adult he will get in the car and go with the parent. (91)
Sen Brad Ashford says he voted for the original law because it did help older child.(92) (94) His concern is whether or not these parents abandon these children. He has a hard time calling it abandonment if the parents remain involved in the process. (94 :21) The issue is with families who are at the end of their rope and don’t know what to do.
Sarah Chida – Medical professional in Lincoln (95) goes over the definition of depression felt by mothers after giving birth – nuetral on the issue.
Don Kleine – (98) – Douglas County Prosecutor – 17 open cases regarding these Safe Haven Cases, no criminal charges filed and all parents are apart of the case so far. Harm to the state is when people bring in children from other states, but it does point out their are problems and service gaps in the system. (98 2:35)
(98 12:29) (100)
Sen Ernie Chamebers says he doesn’t beleive in safe haven bills. Nebraska was the last state to do this and someone heard about it on Oprah, then someone contacted a Senator and it came to the floor. There is no way these issues being discussed, there is no way they will be addressed in this session in the form of legislation. We will only do something for the younger children. Anything we do is stop gap, when the session starts there will be time to consider all of the issues being brought up. Safe Haven should be kept seperate, and I hope they don’t have it at all. A cap on age will be the only thing addressed this session (3:52). Chambers thinks the legislators got it all wrong.
Ann Schumacker (101) COO Emmanuel hospital – We have handled more than 20 cases and none of them are babies. Families are in crisis and clearly the Safe Haven law has been an issue for us, but has shined a light on many of our families. It is time we as a state community, and a country discuss the mental health crisi that is tearing apart our families. These are desperate families. Many of these cases parents have run out of options, not knowing where to turn. (103) We are talking about children up to 18 some understand what is happening, some don’t, one child pleaded i’ll be good, I promise. In one case an older teen brought in by a foster parent who said I can’t do this anymore and walked away. In that case she says the child will never be the same. These are not cases, they are families that need real help. (103 2:11). (105) When families come to us for safe haven, they are triaged like any other patient. There is a screening, physical assessment. Nurse would see if there are psychiatric concerns. There would be a full battery of questions about what is going on at home.
Dr. Stacy Bleicher – American association of pediatrics. (106) She supports the one year time limit. (:25) Families are not always aware of what children are like a week after they bring them home from the hospital. Children 2 and under irritate parents greatly and are at great risk of being abused. She has kids on waiting lists needing mental health services. (2:46)
Sen Ernie Chambers (107 6:16) Not all children understand their bodies, they are ignorant. Nebraska is not a loving state. There needs to be prenatal and postnatal care for woman. Education should not be abstinence only. The present law is looney. (108 2:20)(3:47) (4:10**)(4:50)
Levinia Cooper – (111) Son admitted to Immanual in Omaha under Safe Haven
Her sons difficulties were attacking her. She had him taken to a Psychologist and he was diagnosed with several problems. He was kept at the hospital for 3 days with new medecine. He never got better and went back to the hospital. They ended up heavily medicating him – he slept most of the time. (111 2:00) He didnt want to goto school he would kick and scream. I took the child to the hospital again. He went back to the defiant behavior, beating up brother, torturing pet (3:33). She took him to Omaha under the safe haven law. (4:10) She kissed him and told him goodbye that night. (4:41) She says they have received harsh critisicm from Todd Landry. Her child is now a ward of the state. She says she is being charged with neglect (6:40).(7:00) Her child has been in the hospital for 54 days. Services are an hour away.
(notice – any reference to audio cuts are for my use only)(affiliates, audio will be posted asap)