Governor signs ‘Baby Box’ bill

Fort Dodge will have the first one in Iowa

Legislation clearing the way for the state’s first Safe Haven Baby Box to be installed in Fort Dodge was signed into law Thursday by Gov. Kim Reynolds.

The box is to be installed this summer at the Fort Dodge firehouse, 1515 Central Ave.

Once it is in place, a parent could surrender custody of their infant by placing it in the box. After they shut the outer door of the box, an alarm will notify the firefighter/paramedics inside the station. They will transport the baby to UnityPoint Health -Trinity Regional Medical Center. There, the state Department of Health and Human Services will be notified and the process of getting the baby adopted will start.

“In many cases, it’s the greatest act of love from a mother that just realizes ‘There’s no way I can care for this baby properly’ and they’re willing to give it up and say ‘I want to give this baby a chance for a better life,”” Randy Kuhlman, the chief executive officer of the Fort Dodge Community Foundation and United Way said earlier this month when the Safe Haven Baby Box project was first announced.

The local project is a collaboration of the Fire Department, the Community Foundation, Webster County Emergency Management, the Webster County Board of Supervisors, the Webster County Health Department and UnityPoint Health – Fort Dodge.

Previous Iowa law did permit parents to surrender their babies, but it required them to do so in person by handing the child to a hospital worker or first responder. The law Reynolds signed eliminates the face-to-face interaction and makes the use of the Safe Haven Baby Box legal.

The Community Foundation is paying the $12,000 cost to buy the box.

Jensen Builders Ltd and Baker Electric, both of Fort Dodge, have agreed to install the box for free.

The Community Foundation is raising money to pay for future upkeep of the box and the annual licensing fees required for it.


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