'Safe haven' billboard unveiled after abandoned baby found in Orlando

New campaign promotes Florida's 'safe haven' law

By Mark Lehman - Reporter

OVIEDO, Fla. - A week after a newborn girl was found abandoned at an Orlando apartment complex, firefighters in Oviedo unveiled a new campaign designed to raise awareness for Florida's "safe haven" law.

Through funds from the Florida Department of Health and the nonprofit A Safe Haven for Newborns, the mobile billboard departed Oviedo Friday and will be traveling across the state over the next six months encouraging new mothers in distress to seek help.

"Our goal is to eliminate infant abandonment," Oviedo Fire Chief Lars White said.

Florida's safe haven law allows parents to drop off an unwanted newborn up to 7 days old at any staffed fire station or hospital without legal repercussions.

"Two lives are saved when they choose that path," White said.  "The life of the mother, who is free from any criminal prosecution, as well as the life of the child."

Since 2000, the law has saved more than 200 babies in Florida, including 16 in 2017.

The process is anonymous, and the parents will not face any legal repercussions. Babies who are surrendered under the safe haven law are turned over to a child-placing agency.

Anyone interested in more information on the law is urged to call 1-877-767-BABY.

On Oct. 6, Orlando police said a newborn girl was found at the Willow Key Apartments with a note begging for the infant to be brought to safety.

The infant was unharmed, but investigators are searching for her mother and concerned for her safety.

A representative with the Florida Department of Child and Family Services said the child is now in foster care and an investigation is underway. 

Police are offering a $1,000 reward and encourage anyone with any information to call Crimeline at 1-800-423-TIPS
 

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