A "Safe Haven" for babies in Illinois

By Beau Ebenezer

September 28, 2012 Updated Oct 1, 2012 at 10:27 AM CDT

EAST PEORIA, Ill. -- Following the finding of 3-week-old baby, Mia Graci Thompson, organizations and state officials are spreading the word of Illinois' Safe Haven Program.

Officials in Illinois want young mothers throughout the state to know they do have options.

"If a parent finds themselves in that situation where they can't care for a child, then we strongly encourage them to go to any police station, fire station, hospital that is staffed and hand that child off to somebody so they can be cared for," said State Trooper, Dustin Pierce. 

Illinois law says any new mother or father in Illinois can leave their unharmed baby at a staffed location within 30 days of it being born.

They say parents can walk away with no questions asked, remaining completely anonymous.

An unfamiliar law to some, it brings to question, would Kendra Meaker have taken advantage of the service if she knew it existed?

"I don't think it's that well known. It probably needs to be advertised, unfortunately, in the high schools and the junior colleges," said East Peoria Assistant Fire Chief Rick Ward.

The staffed facility will get the baby checked out by a nearby hospital and sent to the Department of Children and Family Services to find a good home.

"The abandonment of a child is rare although we agree that the abandonment of one child, is one too many. Since 2001, 75 children have been saved through the alternative use of Safe Haven," said DCFS Area Administrator, Desiree Silva

Silva added that 33 out of 66 abandoned children have died since 2001.

According to DCFS, close family members of Mia Graci Thompson are taking care of her for the time being.

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