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King County task force begins work on new ways to safely relinquish newborns

King County - Contributed art
King County
— image credit: Contributed art

Representatives from public health, criminal justice agencies and human service programs have begun work on a campaign to ensure that people considering the desperate act of abandoning their newborn baby know there is a safe alternative. State law allows parents to hand-over a newborn within 72 hours of birth to qualified personnel at a hospital, fire station or federally designated rural health clinic, without fear of prosecution for abandonment.

The new task force grew out of the case of a deceased newborn girl found wrapped in a blanket within a half mile of a hospital in the North Bend area. The infant, believed to be full term, was named Baby Kimball after the bridge near where she was found.

Following the incident, the King County Council unanimously approved a motion, sponsored by Councilmembers Reagan Dunn and Kathy Lambert, calling for the creation of a task force to increase awareness of options to legally and safely give up a newborn.

“It strikes a chord in all of us to think of a newborn child discarded with no food, water or shelter, and no understanding of what is happening or why,” said Dunn. “Being a father of two really brings the issue home to me. I know that, working together, we can let desperate parents know that there are other options, and we can save lives here in King County.”

The Task Force is charged with examining how the County can engage in a collaborative public education campaign, how to work with the state to better track incidences, and whether there are opportunities to expand drop-off locations. Task Force members include public health, criminal justice, and social service County agencies, as well as community and regional stakeholders from organizations that touch on parents in need.

The task force will present a report to the County Executive and the Council by the end of October 2014. The next meeting of the task force will be July 17. Anyone seeking more information about the task force may contact Helen Chatalas, Public Health, at 206-263-8560.

The case of Baby Kimball remains unsolved. The King County Sheriff announced on July 8 that the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab was able to develop DNA profiles from evidence at the scene. The lab was able to get male DNA from the towel the baby was wrapped in and female DNA from one of the plastic garbage bags at the scene. Both show a biological connection to Baby Kimball. Anyone with information on the case is asked to call the King County Sheriff’s Office at 206-296-3311 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.

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