The Knights of Columbus Council 5584 of St. Joseph Church in Rochester is leading an initiative to have a Safe Haven Baby Box installed at the fire department located at 2006 East State Road 14 in Rochester.
The purpose of the box is to help prevent the illegal and potentially deadly abandonment of infants by raising awareness of the Indiana Safe Haven Law and resources for mothers in crisis. It will be the 74th box in Indiana and the first in Fulton County.
Since April 2016, when the first box was installed, there have not been any infant deaths due to abandonment in the state.
Per the Indiana.gov website, “The Indiana Safe Haven Law enables a person to give up an unwanted infant anonymously without fear of arrest or prosecution.As long as there are no signs of intentional abuse on the baby, no information is required of the person leaving the baby. Any knowledge of the date of birth, race, parent medical history, child's health or anything that would be useful to the child's caregiver would be greatly appreciated.”
Safe Haven Baby Box founder, Monica Kelsey, was abandoned as an infant. It is her mission to raise awareness of Safe Haven Laws and provide baby boxes to enable the anonymous surrender of an infant. Kelsey currently lives in Indiana and is a retired firefighter and medic.
How a Baby Box Works
The Safe Haven Baby Box is a safety device that legally permits a motherto surrender her newborn safely, securely and anonymously. The box will be installed in an exterior wall of the fire department. Once a parent opens the exterior door to the baby box, a silent alarm is triggered, and a call goes to police dispatch. After the parent places the newborn into the bassinet inside of the box, a second silent alarm triggers a second alert to dispatch. The parent can push a button or simply close the door which will set off a third alarm and call to dispatch. The exterior door automatically locks, while an interior door allows a medical staff member to safely secure the surrendered newborn. The child is then evaluated and taken to the hospital. The Indiana Department of Child Services will take the baby into custody and Child Protective Services will place the infant with a caregiver.
Safe Haven Crisis Hotline
The Safe Haven Crisis Hotline, 1-866-99BABY1,will be prominently displayed on the Safe Haven Baby Box. The hotline provides 24-hour dedicated emergency counseling and support for parents in crisis. The hotline has received over 5,000 calls from every state in America, referred over 500 women to crisis pregnancy centers, assisted in seven adoption referrals, and saved 100 babies by enabling legal Safe Haven surrenders.
Fundraising Support Needed
The Knights of Columbus from St. Joseph Catholic Church in Rochester has applied for grants and is seeking the community’s assistance to raise the funds to cover the installation and ongoing expenses related to the baby box. The initial cost is $15,000 and includes the purchase of the Safe Haven Baby Box; labor to install the box, electricity and alarm; and training for emergency personnel. Ongoing expenses estimated at $500 a year include the annual recertification of the box, maintenance, and alarm monitoring service fee. To date, the Knights of Columbus has secured $5,000 in funding via a $2,500 grant from REMC and fundraising efforts. Businesses and individuals are invited to make a tax-deductible contribution to the cause online at https://secure.qgiv.com/for/bbffsjc or by mailing a check to 2296 Sycamore Drive, Rochester, IN 46975. Checks should be made payable to K of C Baby Box.
“The Safe Haven Baby Box is a way for our community to come together to prevent the dangerous abandonment of children. Working together, we can provide this important resource and access to the crisis hotline for local mothers in crisis,” said Andrew “Ike” Halaschak, who is leading the fundraising effort.