Community effort will bring Safe Haven Baby Box to Fort Dodge

If it saves just one infant, it will have been worth it

People passing by the Fort Dodge firehouse at 1515 Central Ave. this summer may notice something a little different on the building’s northeast wall.

They will be seeing a new method to save the lives of babies that would otherwise be abandoned. It will be the first of its kind in Iowa, and it’s coming to Fort Dodge as a result of teamwork between several groups.

The object visible to folks going by the building will be the outer door to a Safe Haven Baby Box. Desperate parents who feel they cannot care for their newborn could place the baby in that box. As soon as they close the outer door, an alarm will go off, alerting the firefighter/paramedics inside. The infant will be taken to UnityPoint Health – Trinity Regional Medical Center and the state Department of Health and Human Services will take custody of the child, starting the adoption process.

Randy Kuhlman, the chief executive officer of the Fort Dodge Community Foundation and United Way, said making use of the Safe Haven Baby Box may be“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.”

The effort to get the box was started by Fort Dodge City Councilwoman Lydia Schuur and Ashley Vaala, the founder and former director of the Lotus Community Project.

State Sen. Tim Kraayenbrink and state Rep. Ann Meyer, both Fort Dodge Republicans, worked to change current state law to make the proposed Safe Haven Baby Box legal in Iowa.

The Community Foundation, the city government, Webster County Emergency Management, the Webster County Board of Supervisors, the Webster County Health Department and UnityPoint Health- Fort Dodge all played a role in the project. It was another outstanding example of collaboration that apparently isn’t found in a lot of other Iowa cities, but is now standard in our community.

To top it off, Jensen Builders Ltd. and Baker Electric, both of Fort Dodge, volunteered their services to install the box.

If the new Safe Haven Baby Box saves the life of just one infant, it will have been worth all of the effort.


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