Baby 'Olivia' improving; officials explain safe haven law

Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB

NEW ROADS, LA (WAFB) - There are signs of hope for a baby girl who has faced more in her few days of life than most adults. The infant, known as baby Olivia, was dumped in a New Roads Walmart trashcan at birth Friday night. Three days later, the New Roads Police Chief reports that the baby is in stable condition and eating as she continues to recover at a local hospital.

Police arrested the baby's mother, Kyandrea Thomas, Saturday. She was held at the East Baton Rouge Parish prison over the weekend and is expected to be sent back to Pointe Coupee Parish Tuesday morning to face charges of attempted second degree murder. The assistant district attorney says a judge will decide bond at that time. Thomas was also charged in the hot car death of another child in 2009 while she was working as an aid at a daycare.

Officials say this shocking case of abandonment could have been avoided. Louisiana has a Safe Haven Law. According to the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), babies up to 60 days old can be safely and legally surrendered at any Safe Haven site, including hospitals, fire stations, and police stations, as long as the child is not neglected or abused. According to DCFS, a child must also be left with an employee at that site and says leaving a baby unattended "is illegal and will not meet the criteria of the safe haven law."

If a mother is unable to travel to a safe have site, she can also call police or 911.

"There's no questions asked. The medical providers will then transport the baby to the hospital for an evaluation and then the baby is turned over to the Department of Children and Family Services," explained EMS spokesman, Nick McDonner.

According to DCFS, the state will then immediately begin the process of placing the baby with a family. While DCFS encourages planned and permanent adoption if parents want to give up custody, officials say the safe haven option ensures a baby's safety if there is no other choice. McDonner says there have been around 45 safe haven cases statewide since the law was put in place in 2000. DCFS reported a the most recent safe haven case in May.

Safe haven sites include:

  • Licensed hospitals
  • Public health units
  • Emergency Medical Service providers
  • Medical clinics
  • Fire stations
  • Police stations
  • Crisis pregnancy centers
  • Child advocacy centers

For more information on the safe haven law or other adoption options, call the DCFS hotline at 1-800-CHILDREN (1-800-244-5373) or click here.


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