Where Child Abandonment is Legal

. Monday, October 13

Meet Todd Landry, head of Nebraska's Department of Health and Human Services division of child and family services. Landry is now yelling "uncle!" after the second out-of-state teenager was dropped off at an Omaha hospital under the state's safe-haven law. This law allows anyone, anywhere to abandon a child without fear of prosecution. Last week, a 14 year old girl was dropped off by her grandparents. Prior to that, an unemployed widower with 10 children dropped off 9 of them because he was overwhelmed.

The original intent of the law was to protect newborns at risk of harm. Now, Landry says, "I certainly recognize and can commiserate and empathize with families across our state and across the country who are obviously struggling with parenting issues, but this is not the appropriate way of dealing with them, whether you're in Nebraska or whether you're in another state."  Oh, really? What do you suggest, dear sir?

Take heart, Mr. Landry. You're certainly not the first DHHS that has completely missed the real needs of the people you are supposed to serve. Perhaps it's time to look at preventive programs instead of the usual band-aids?  Maybe, just maybe, a true needs assessment will now happen across the country in other human service agencies because of your very public blunder.