Public Comments for: HB738 - Competency to stand trial; order for evaluation or treatment.
DBHDS does not have an official position on this bill so there is no need for me to speak. However, I will be present if technical assistance from DBHDS is required.
Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman, and committee members: Thank you for the opportunity to comment on HB 16 and thank you, Delegate Fowler, for your work updating our state’s Safe Haven law. We, Virginia is for Children (an advocacy group for the lives of vulnerable children in our state), are following the Safe Haven law efforts and are fully supportive of the extension to thirty days of age for infant relinquishment. This is a reasonable, standard amount of time for a mom/parent to conclude that they cannot parent their baby OR, change their mind and decide they can parent their baby. Such a significant, life-altering decision does not need to be rushed or hurried. We know that moms who have just given birth, especially those who are alone, need time to recover physically and emotionally. Moms can experience postpartum depression after the birth of child, this typically occurs within the first 1-3 weeks after birth, parents can be in desperate situations- experiencing homelessness, abuse, addiction and need time to get help. Twenty-one states are now at thirty days for age of relinquishment. Utah just extended their law to thirty days in February, 2020 and approved funding for safe haven law awareness. Extending this law can potentially save more infants from abuse, neglect, and abandonment and give parents the time they need to make important decisions. We hope the committee will approve the extension and consider providing state funding for safe haven law awareness and promotion of safe haven locations or “safe baby sites”. Not enough parents are informed about the law’s existence and the process involved. Our group is especially interested in a state funded, DSS promoted, 24-hour confidential, crisis hotline that would provide intervention and support for women in crisis pregnancies and struggling parents, so that they can get the help they need to parent their baby. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and committee members for your time and for the opportunity to voice our support of this bill. Sincerely, Leah Kipley VA is for Children