Clarington announcd it is building Ontario’s first Hope’s Cradle, an anonymous infant surrender site.
It is expected to be operational by fall, and will be located at Clarington Emergency and Fire Services station at 2430 Highway 2. It will be for parents to anonymously and safely surrender infants.
Construction is underway, and the safe surrender initiative, Hope’s Cradle, will be operational later this year, said a municipal statement issued yesterday.
Hope’s Cradle is a collaborative initiative — founded and being scaled nationwide by Calgary-based registered charity Gems for Gems — to protect infants from unsafe abandonment.
Clarington Council endorsed the installation of the Hope’s Cradle surrender site at Fire Hall 1 at their September 12, 2022, Joint Committee meeting.
“A resident proposed this idea, and council listened. This is a great initiative that could save lives. Maybe it’s never used, but it’s a much bigger problem if it was ever needed and wasn’t there,” said Clarington Mayor Adrian Foster.
How it will work
A parent or guardian can come to an unmonitored fire station entrance. Inside the door, they will find a bassinet to place the surrendered baby in, and an information package. The package contains a medical form for the baby’s history and an addressed prepaid envelope. The parent will also receive information about the local support available to them, how the process works, and their rights should they change their mind.
Once they leave the child and close the door, it will not reopen. Firefighters will get an alert that a baby has been placed in the cradle and go to pick the infant up. Paramedics will be called to do a health evaluation of the child.
Any guardian who surrenders an infant will be kept anonymous, provided the infant shows no signs of abuse. Then Durham Children’s Aid Society will be contacted to collect the infant and place it in care.
This initiative was first launched in Alberta through a partnership between a Calgary-based charity, Gems for Gems, and the Strathmore Fire Department. Clarington will be the first Hope’s Cradle site in Ontario. However, other local municipalities have recently approved plans for similar sites in their areas, Clarington said.
“A parent may be unsafe or too ashamed to go through the usual process of putting their child up for adoption. This initiative offers a safe alternative for vulnerable parents across Durham Region and the Greater Toronto Area who feel they have no choice but to abandon their infant,” said Clarington Fire Chief David Speed.