Only one York County baby has been dropped off at a Safe Haven location over the past eight years.

That baby was left at Memorial Hospital about five years ago.

Safe Haven allows parents to drop off a newborn, up to 28 days old, at any hospital in Pennsylvania with no questions asked, said spokesman Michael Race of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare.

As long as the baby is unharmed, parents will not be asked to provide any personal information or be asked any

questions, said Race.

Since the program's inaugural year in 2003, 14 babies across the state have been saved through the program, said Race.

The program exists specifically to avoid the type of horrific events that recently occurred in Wayne County, where a man allegedly killed his newborn daughter because he and his girlfriend feared they could not afford to care for the child, Gary Alexander, acting secretary of the state's Department Public Welfare, has said.

Had this young couple used their local hospital as a safe haven, that baby would still be alive, Alexander said.

Local alternatives: York, Memorial and Hanover hospitals are among 250 hospitals across the state that serve as alternatives to abandonment of babies, said Race.

And so far this year, no babies have been dropped off at York County hospitals, said hospital officials.


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In fact, no babies have been dropped off at York Hospital since Safe Haven was put in place in 2003, said spokesman Barry Sparks.

Child abuse still high: Even with safeguards such as Safe Haven locations in place, York County still ranks No. 3 for child abuse, when compared to all Pennsylvania counties.

In fact, last year, two York County babies died as a result of child abuse, according to a 2010 child abuse report by the state's Department of Public Welfare.

Beyond the proven child abuse cases, however, are hundreds more cases of suspected child abuse.

Last year, there were 1,113 suspected cases of child abuse reported in York County, the report stated. That's an increase of 20 cases when compared to 2009.

The option: So why don't more parents take advantage programs like Safe Haven, before committing acts of child abuse?

According to director Deb Chronister of York County's Children and Youth Services, many unprepared parents don't think they need to turn their babies over to foster care soon after they see their babies.

Once the pressure and work involved in raising an infant begins to take its toll on unprepared parents, that's when they take their anger and frustrations out on their family and child services agencies intervene, said Chronister.

Chronister said getting the word out that Safe Haven locations are safe and 100 percent annoynomous for a parent and newborns could encourage more unfit parents to drop their babies off.

"People need to be assured that (drop off locations at hospitals) truly are safe havens," she said.

--Reach Lauren Whetzel at 505-5432 .