Nebraska's Safe Haven Law

35 children have been left at hospitals by parents in the last month under Nebraska's safe haven law. The law was made for parents of infants who were too overwhelmed to care for their baby, or young mothers who really did not want a baby and did not know where to turn. But what has been unearthed is that many parents who feel completely overwhelmed in caring for and supporting a child--even a teen--are leaving their kids at the hospitals.

An important fact is that 30 of these kids had a mental health diagnosis. This is the vast majority of the kids abandoned, even by some parents driving across state lines to leave their child. What it reminds us is that the services available for mental health care in general and particularly low-fee treatments are truly insufficient.

Part of the problem is that parents often don't know that their child has a mental health issue. Then, if they do know, the ability to find a psychiatrist that can be afforded, or the support network to help them manage are seriously lacking. Hence, it is not shocking that some parents who are feeling hopelessly overwhelmed are looking for ANY way out.

The plan is to repeal the law and make it applicable to infants only, but this will not solve the problem which has been uncovered. Many children suffer from mental health issues and many are very treatable.  We need to work as a nation to expand both the information available and the services accessible to parents many of whom will have kids with a mental health issue of some sort.

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