Safe place a solution for parents

By: Sara Shookman Email
By: Sara Shookman Email

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- A safe spot was just steps away. But LaFollette Police say this mom, Wanda Cieslak murdered her newborn baby boy.

He was found early Friday outside a home on Hatmaker Drive.

"No baby deserves to be treated like that, or to die that way," said Shannon McCloud, the executive director of Secret Safe Place for Newborns of Tennessee.

McCloud devotes her time to stop that from happening, "It gives [a mother] a way to keep that baby safe and give that baby a real chance with another family."

Parents can drop off an unwanted baby up to three days old to a hospital, fire or police station, the health department or other designated spot.

"The mother can walk into one of those places, hand her baby to someone who works there, and walk away without answering any questions or giving any information," said McCloud.

"If somebody comes in and wants to surrender their child, we will take them," said Dr. Martha Buchanan with the Knox County Health Department. "We'll get them to a safe place. We'll contact DCS."

It's state law, and it's happened 37 times in Tennessee, placing 37 children in loving homes.

Sarah Long, a social worker for Child and Family Tennessee says help can come even earlier.

"The first signs that something could be wrong. If a family is struggling with substance abuse or mental health problems, the earlier you intervene the better you can prevent something like this from happening," said Long.

Whether a parent needs help from with support, or an underlying problem like drugs or mental health issues, there's a constructive way to deal with the stress.

"It can be very overwhelming. I don't know a mother out there that hasn't felt that stress before," she said.

At Child and Family Tennessee, there are resources available even before a child is born, ranging from parenting tips and advice, to substance abuse treatment and counseling.

You can find more information by clicking on the link below.

Secret Safe Place has a 24-7 helpline by calling 1-866-699-SAFE (7233).

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