TRENTON — New Jersey has seen the highest number of newborns surrendered statewide this year in 17 years, the state Department of Children and Families announced on Thursday.

Four additional, unrelated babies were brought to Safe Haven sites in April, May and August — to double the total number of surrenders in 2023 at eight.

NJ Safe Haven Law DCF via Youtube (2)
(NJ DCF via Youtube )

Why the increase in baby surrenders?

The last time the number of surrendered newborns was that high was in 2006, according to DCF records. The law took effect in 2000.

DCF Commissioner Christine Norbut Beyer said the higher number likely shows that public awareness of the Safe Haven law has increased.

She said the state typically has seen three or four Safe Haven surrenders a year.

NJ Safe Haven Law NJ DCF via Youtube 1
(NJ DCF via Youtube)

How the safe-surrender law works in New Jersey

Since the law was signed 23 years ago, 90 babies have been surrendered.

Under the law, infants up to 30 days old, free of abuse or neglect, can be anonymously surrendered to staff at hospitals, police or fire stations and 24-hour ambulance or rescue squads.

Once medically cleared, surrendered newborns are matched with an adoptive home, through the Division of Child Protection and Permanency.


NJ Safe Haven hotline via NJ DCF
NJ Safe Haven hotline via NJ DCF

Safe-surrender law expanded this year

Earlier this month, Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation that made it easier for hospital infant surrenders, directly after birth.

Any adult employee of a licensed general hospital can now accept a surrendered infant  in addition to police officers, firefighters, and ambulance/first aid/rescue squad members.

The signing of the expanded bill coincided with the start of Safe Haven Awareness Month, marked every September with enhanced public outreach, such as the "no shame, no blame, no names" campaign.

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