- September 27, 2012
- 12:01 pm
- Akanksha Jayanthi
A safe haven for infants
Loyola University Chicago is now considered a “Safe Haven” where parents can anonymously hand over their infant if they are unable to properly care for the child. This motion follows the amendment of the 2001 Illinois Abandoned Newborn Infant Protection Act, which says parents can “anonymously relinquish” an infant who is 30 days or younger to hospitals, police stations, fire stations, and emergency medical facilities without penalty, as long as the child is unharmed. The law was amended in 2011 to include colleges and universities, both public and private, as designated safe havens for infants.
The law was enacted to provide an alternative option for parents instead of abandoning infants in dangerous environments. Such abandonment would not only potentially harm the infant, but the parents could also face criminal charges for neglect. By including colleges and universities, there is a much larger network of safe havens.
The act says that “establishing an adoption plan is preferable to relinquishing a child…,but to reduce the chance of injury to a newborn infant, this Act provides a safer alternative.”
Loyola’s Department of Campus Safety is playing its part by becoming one of those safe havens.
Tim Cunningham, student community liaison officer, says it is important for Loyola to become a safe haven because a large number of people who are making use of the service this Act enables are of traditional college age.
The use of Campus Safety as a safe haven is not restricted to only Loyola students. “Anyone is able to bring an infant to our department,” says Cunningham. “If a person comes in with a child, Campus Safety will immediately request a Chicago Fire Department Ambulance to come assess the infant for health and to transport them to the nearest hospital, which is what the law requires us to do. Any of our campus police stations are options when staff is present.”
Anyone who relinquishes a child to Campus Safety will receive a resource packet put together by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services that explains available health services, counseling, and legal obligations. Additionally, any Loyola student who makes use of this resource will be referred to the Wellness Center.
“This allows Campus Safety another resource to serve the Loyola community, as well as the broader Chicago neighborhoods our campuses are a part of,” says Cunningham.
For more information on this topic, visit the State of Illinois website.