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Safe Surrender program for unwanted newborns gives moms an option

Don Knabe

Los Angeles County officials on Thursday plan to celebrate a former Safe Surrender baby's fourth birthday and launch a campaign to remind a new generation of mothers about the program.

"Nicholas’ fourth birthday is a reminder of the 109 precious lives saved by the Baby Safe Surrender program," county Supervisor Don Knabe said in a statement.

The event comes weeks after a newborn boy was turned over at a hospital in Van Nuys under the program, which allows a parent to confidentially hand over an infant -- 3 days old or younger -- to any hospital emergency room or fire station in Los Angeles without threat of prosecution.

The newborn was the sixth this year to be surrendered and the 109th since the program began 12 years ago.

"It is a celebration of all the children who were given a second chance at life by mothers who made the right choice for their baby and for themselves," Knabe said in the statement.

However, he said, more work needs to be done to spread the word after a recent incident in which a dead infant boy was discovered in South El Monte in a trash bin in South El Monte earlier this month. 

The campaign will expand the program's outreach by relaunching in multiple languages, while collaborating with community-based organizations and relying on a mix of traditional and grass-roots awareness efforts, Knabe said.

The baby boy surrendered earlier this month is now in protective custody and will be placed with a family approved by the county Department of Children and Family Services. The identity of the mother and circumstances of the surrender were not disclosed.

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