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Baby’s ordeal sparks calls for law reform

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State Sen. Serphin Maltese (R-Glendale), an original co-sponsor of the state's Abandonment Infant Protection Law, said the time frame under which parents can abandon newborn infants at certain locations is not long enough. Currently, the law allows parents unable to care for their newborns to leave the baby at a hospital, firehouse or church up to five days after being born without facing criminal penalties.Maltese said he wants to extend the window to 30 days - which still would not have covered Danielle's parents."How high do you go [before you] make it so easy that it provides an unacceptable alternative for people that decide taking care of an infant is too much?" he asked, suggesting a streamlined adoption program for older babies."Maybe what we have to do is provide a method by which parents... can take a look at their situation and agree early on to give the child up for the best interest of the child," he said.Maltese said he would also push for a provision giving leniency to intermediary figures like Sailema, who faces charges of criminal facilitation and filing a false report for delivering Daniella to authorities.Daniella's parents may have had another option besides abandonment, the Administration for Children's Services said.Spokeswoman Sheila Stainback said a service called "respite care" is available to any parent of a child up to 17 years old who needs emergency help because he or she cannot safely care for the child.In such a situation, Stainback said, the ACS places the child with certified foster parents for 21 days. After that, she said, the ACS makes another plan with the parent, such as leaving the child with family members or close friends.Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at jwalsh@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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