Letter: Baby boxes helpful, despite city’s opinion

From: Monica Kelsey, founder Safe Haven Baby Boxes Inc.


Columbus officials recently made the decision to not accept a paid-for baby box for the city of Columbus after a high school senior took on the project with the city’s blessing.

Fire Chief Mike Compton has spoken publicly and states that they have been a designated safe haven location since December 2018, and in his own words, “We’ve been way in front of this.” Why has it taken Columbus Fire Department 18 years to get registered as a safe haven location if they are way ahead of this? The law passed in Indiana in 2001, and if they were way ahead they would have implemented this 18 years ago to allow women to surrender at any of their fire stations. Slapping a couple signs on the side of the fire station 18 years after the law passed and calling oneself a location is a dereliction of one’s sworn duty to protect the community. The taxpayers do not pay taxes for lip service or appeasement.

City administrator Mary Ferdon said, “…there may also be a need for both medical care and emotional support for the parents… The Safe Haven Baby Box (SHBB) surrender does not allow us the opportunity to address those issues as the parent may leave the area before our medially-trained personnel would have an opportunity to conduct a rapid health assessment.” From this statement, it is clear that Ms. Ferdon did not conduct effective research or due diligence prior to issuing this statement.

Under the Indiana IC code IC 31-34-2.5-1(c): (c) Any person who in good faith voluntarily leaves a child: (1) with an emergency medical services provider; (2) in a newborn safety device described in subsection (a)(1)(B); is not obligated to disclose the parent’s name or the person’s name.

This clearly states that a mother in crisis is not required to walk into a fire station and surrender her newborn, and she can have “any person in good faith” do this for her.

Another item to address is the comment made by Sherri Foushee at the Columbus City Council meeting on January 6, 2019. Ms. Foushee, a volunteer from another safe haven organization, stated the safe haven law is working and their organization has saved 3,700 babies to date in the last 18 years. What she failed to mention is 1,700 newborn babies were found in trash cans and dumpsters in this same time period. We don’t classify this as a win.

The SHBB organization is not working to replace individual states’ safe haven law. We work within the established state framework to ensure safe infant surrender. SHBB is a last resort option.

Finally, we are not writing to sway the City of Columbus to become a leader in Indiana of addressing illegal abandonment and supporting their most vulnerable community members. The SHBB program is effective and will continue to work in the best interest of all Hoosiers. We are taking this opportunity to educate the community with accurate information.