When I called 2-1-1 because someone told me they could help with nutrition, I never expected to get fresh food. They sent me to a food pantry where I got 3 onions, 4 potatoes, 4 bananas, orange, brown rice, black beans, 3 artichokes, raspberries, packaged lettuce for salad, carrots, purple cabbage, and chicken breast. I called 2-1-1 again right away and asked if I could go back to the pantry again and they told me I could go every week if I needed food. I would never have found about this if it weren’t for the people at 2-1-1!
Safely surrendering babies to the City of Fullerton
The Daily Titan
April 13, 2011
By Krissy Paine
Is the safest place for a baby in its mother’s arms?
More than 4 million babies are born each year in the United States, according to BabyCenter.com. Most of those babies are born into an environment where their parents are willing and able to take care of their child.
However, for the mothers and fathers that are unable to provide a stable situation for their child, there is California’s Safely Surrendered Baby law. The law allows parents to safely surrender their child within 72 hours of the baby being born. That way, the parents will not be prosecuted for abandonment and the baby is protected from harm.
The city of Fullerton participates in the baby safe surrender program in many ways.
Dawn Colwell, fire prevention specialist for the Fullerton Fire Department, listed a number of places for a parent to utilize the baby safe surrender program, such as the St. Jude Hospital, Fullerton fire headquarters/station 1 and any fire station with a baby safe surrender sign.
Unfortunately, many people believe the program is not being utilized as much as it should be.
Joe Albert Garcia, an assistant professor in the Human Services Department at Cal State Fullerton, is one of those people. “The law is almost certainly not being used enough. There is just not enough promotion of this law for it to be commonly known to all mothers who might find themselves in this situation,” said Garcia.
“Despite the law, babies are still abandoned in unsafe ways or are only discovered after it is too late. From state information, there is still at least one baby a month abandoned in an unsafe way in California … and those are only the ones we know about,” Garcia added.
One public case of a baby being abandoned in an unsafe way happened in April of 2010. Yoselin Torres Tovar, 18, was arrested by Fullerton detectives for the murder of her infant daughter. The baby was murdered in Tovar’s home and died of multiple stab wounds to the torso area.
After the incident, the Fullerton Police Department decided it was a good time to remind residents of other ways to handle an unwanted child. Also, many fire stations in Fullerton with signs will accept the baby without any questions asked.
Even though the state of California Department of Social Services promotes education to the public, many parents are still in need of guidance.
Colwell has advice for unsure parents, saying, “Seek help. Talk to your family, friends, clergy member, teacher, doctor, nurse or call 2-1-1 for assistance.”
Even today, there are debates on whether or not the Safely Surrendered Baby law is flawed.
Mary Wickman, a registered nurse and coordinator in the CSUF nursing program, believes the law is “reasonable and does provide at least a 14-day cooling-off period if the parent changes their mind.”
Parents that make use of the baby safe surrender program not only emotionally benefit themselves, but the baby as well.
“One could argue overall that this law leads to even better long-term outcomes because the child will understand that their mother gave them up safely. Whereas the alternative is that a mother abandoned the child possibly to their death, which would obviously be a more difficult thing to accept for the child,” Garcia said.
Wickman agrees, saying, “These aspects of the law (confidentiality, baby receives access to health care and adoption services) are beneficial to both the parent(s) and newborn because they provide physical safety for an infant that otherwise could be abandoned and die.”
The safest place for a baby may not be its biological mother’s arms, but there are many people dedicated to providing the child with a loving and safe environment.
If you or someone you know needs more information on the program and the Safely Surrendered Baby law, please visit these sites: BabySafe.Ca.gov and SafeSurrenderOC.Weebly.com.