FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) - What started as a way to save innocent children in 2015 has grown into a lot more, and a bill currently making its way through the Indiana State House and Senate may help it grow even more.
House Bill 1032, if passed, will allow for "Newborn Safety Devices" to be installed at volunteer fire stations, meaning Safe Haven Baby Boxes would be allowed to expand into more Indiana communites.
Safe Haven Baby Boxes founder Monica Kelsey says the city of Woodburn is a perfect example of why this expansion is needed.
Kelsey explained, "This community is less than 2,000 people and we’ve never had a safe haven surrender prior to that, but yet we had one February 22nd, 2019 because a woman trusted us enough to bring us her child."
First introduced in the state House, the bill passed by a vote of 95-0.
District 85 Representative Dave Heine, R, says the vote was simple.
"It increases the number of baby boxes that we’ll have in our state and it’ll save babies’ lives. That’s why I voted yes," Heine said. "It really opens up the state."
Amendments on the bill from the state Senate committee on Family and Children Services include a response time of no more than four minutes if a baby is left in the box at a volunteer fire station, and is less than a mile away from a hospital or place that has an ems or police officer on staff 24/7, along with a few other amendements.
For Kelsey, she wishes struggling mothers didn’t have to choose this option, saying "The baby box is not a good option. It’s only a good option if it’s the only option this mother has left."
However, she recognizes that partly because of Safe Haven Baby Boxes, no abandoned children have been found dead in Indiana since Baby Amelia in 2014.
Kelsey believes expanding their availability will protect more children and save more lives.
"This a good option for volunteer fire stations for rural communities where most of the firefighters in the community know the kids that are at the high school," Kelsey explained. "It is a good thing that this bill is getting passed."
The bill has a Do Pass Recommendation from the Senate Committee and will make it's way back to the state House for revision before a final vote.
For more resources for struggling mothers, contact the National Safe Baby Hotline at 1-866-99-BABY1 (1-866-992-2291) or visit Safe Haven Baby Boxes' website.