OCALA, Fla. – Ocala’s Fire Rescue Headquarters will soon house Florida’s first Safe Haven Baby Box.
“Mom doesn’t have to do anything except open the door and place the child. There’s a heater, cooling unit and it’s alarm activated,” Monica Kelsey said.
Kelsey is the Founder and CEO of Safe Haven Baby Boxes. She said, while all states have a Safe Haven law, allowing mothers to surrender their newborns to hospitals and fire stations without fear of prosecution, officials are still finding one dead abandoned baby every three days. Kelsey said she almost wound up a part of that statistic.
“My biological father is a rapist and I was abandoned at birth and my life still has value. I wish that today, my birth mom would have had those resources all those years ago,” Kelsey said.
After retiring as a firefighter and medic, Kelsey created a safety device that’s installed into the wall of a fire station or hospital. Once the door is opened, a silent alarm is activated.
“These firefighters will know there’s a baby in that box 60 seconds after that child is placed in the box. Sixty seconds is enough time for mom to get away,” Kelsey said.
Kelsey said the Safe Haven Baby Box will give mothers full anonymity and hopefully reduce the number of abandoned babies. She said once the baby is inside, the outer door locks and only safety or medical personnel can access it.
“There are organizations out there that say this isn’t a good idea because these children will never know their heritage, or these kids won’t know their biological parents. I say, I’d rather have my life than know who my parents are,” Kelsey said.
Right now, there are more than 50 active baby boxes across the U.S. Nearly 100 babies have been recovered from those boxes since 2016.
“I don’t ever want a baby to left dumped in this country - a first-world country - ever again,” Kelsey said.
The Safe Haven Baby Box costs $10,000 and is leased for $200 a month. The box has been delivered to the Ocala Fire Rescue Headquarters and is expected to be installed the first week of December.