When Alpha Pregnancy Care Center heard about a safety device that allows for the secure and anonymous surrender of an infant, they pursued a Safe Haven Baby Box as another way to serve vulnerable women in their community.
“We see women faced with unplanned pregnancy all the time,” noted Angie Crawford, Alpha executive director in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. “We see the shock. We see the fear. We see the uncertainty of what to do.
“And when we heard that this existed, it just seemed like a natural extension, just another resource to offer her.”
A Safe Haven Baby Box allows a mother in crisis to safely, legally surrender a child less than 30 days old, automatically terminating her parental rights if she expresses no intent to return.
After placing the baby in a climate-controlled, electronically monitored box and closing the door, the mother is free to leave without legal pursuit as the box automatically locks and triggers a series of silent alarms. An individual with emergency medical training responds within two minutes to take custody of the infant for ongoing care.
Crawford started a dialogue with the local fire department about bringing a baby box to Christian County, and several months later the city of Hopkinsville entered into a contract with Safe Haven, the organization behind the boxes and the Safe Haven laws that legalize their use.
The city and fire department/EMS will monitor the box by performing daily visual checks, running weekly alarm system tests and providing training for personnel, assuming responsibility for the community resource.
“We’ve done things like contacting the [attorney general] to make sure the location is acceptable for Safe Haven laws in Kentucky and coordinated the efforts, but the fire department … already have the estimate to install it and they will set up the alarm system and they’ll pay the annual fee,“ Crawford noted. “We would step away once it’s up and functional.”
Until then, Alpha will be actively engaged by raising funds and awareness for the box.
The project will require a minimum of $16,000 to cover the cost of the box itself, installation fees and alarm technology — and while Alpha is leading fundraising efforts, monies will not funnel through center volunteers or staff.
“Every penny that is raised goes directly to Safe Haven Baby Box,” Crawford explained. “People can’t write a check to Alpha and then us turn around and send it to them. All checks are written to Safe Haven, and all money goes directly to them.”
Supporters also can give online through a secure link posted to Alpha’s Facebook page.
Two weeks after announcing the project, donations have surpassed $2,200.
For safe and legal surrender of a child call the 24-hour National Safe Haven Crisis line at 866-99BABY1.