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COLUMBUS, Ohio — The mission of Safe Haven Baby Boxes is personal and one that has had success in states like Indiana. Safe Box For Sale
Monica Kelsey, the creator of the program, explained her motivation for wanting to create a safe space for new mothers in crisis.
“In August of 1972, a young 17-year-old girl was brutally attacked and raped and left along the side of the road,” she said. “She gave birth in April of 1973, and abandoned her child two hours after that child was born. And that child was me.” Here's a look at where Safe Haven Baby Boxes are located in Ohio.
Many of the baby boxes are at small fire departments.
We now know of at least one that is no longer offered: The Union Township Fire Department in Batavia. Its closure was confirmed by the fire department and the Ohio Department of Health.
According to the fire department, the reason for closure is that they are not able to guarantee that someone is in the building at all times — something that's required in Ohio law.
Under the Safe Haven for Newborns law, a person can anonymously leave their unharmed baby, less than 30 days old, with a medical worker in a hospital, at a fire department or another emergency service organization, or with a peace officer at a law enforcement agency. In 2017, the state legislature established the Newborn Safety Incubator program, which according to ODH, requires the department to adopt rules and register the installation and operation of these incubators to ensure the safety of the baby.
In a written statement to 10TV, an ODH spokesperson wrote, "an individual must be on-site to immediately answer the alarm and assess the condition of the newborn. Technology and alarms may fail, and if they fail at this most critical time, the on-site individual's role is of the highest importance." Kelsey is now calling for the law to be revised. "No one has to be standing inside that firehouse the box is calling 911 on its own. And then they also have an app on their phone where they can see the inside of the baby box in real-time,” she said. “So, if there is a baby in that box, we're going to know it immediately.”
In Columbus, there is a box installed in Sunbury at the local fire department.
BST&G Fire District Chief Chris Kovach released the following statement to 10TV: “Due to a disagreement over language contained in Ohio's Safe Haven Law and the inability of legislators and the Ohio Department of Health to rectify the problem, in October of last year, we voluntarily chose to temporarily close the box located at 350 W. Cherry Street in Sunbury. Our alarm system has been repaired, and our hope is for the involved parties to quickly reach an agreement that would allow us to reopen our Safe Haven Baby Box." ODH said it will work with the legislature if any legislation surrounding newborn safety incubators is introduced. So far, no legislation is in the works.
In June 2021, our sister station, WTHR, interviewed a family that adopted a baby left in a Safe Haven Baby Box. Read that story here.
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