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Long Beach approves contract for state’s first Safe Haven Baby Box

Caitlin Kelly watches as Mayor George Bass signs a contract approving Mississippi's first Safe Haven Baby Box (Photo by City of Long Beach)

More than six months later, Long Beach Mayor George Bass and several aldermen have signed a contract approving a Safe Haven Baby Box to be set up at a local fire station.

The box contains a silent alarm that activates as soon as the mother opens it. A second sensor activates once the infant is laud into the medical grade bassinet. EMS/911 Dispatch is immediately contacted upon the box opening.

Once the child is obtained by EMS, they will go to the local hospital where they will be medically evaluated. Child Protection Services is then contacted, and measures are taken to proceed with adoptive placement.

“We couldn’t be more impressed by and thankful for the city of Long Beach for their willingness to meet the needs of women in crisis and infant children,” said Safe Haven Baby Box organizer Caitlyn Kelly, who began the process with her husband Steve. “They were prepared to make a decision, and it was obvious they thoroughly evaluated the Safe Haven Baby Box mission prior to our arrival.

Safe Haven Baby Box was first founded in 2016 by Monica Kelsey. After being abandoned as a child in Indiana in the 1970s, Kelsey made it her mission to raise awareness for the Safe Haven Law. Her organization now provides a 24-hour hotline where mothers can get assistance free of charge.

To date, the hotline has helped more than 8,000 women from every state in the U.S. They have referred over 500 women to crisis centers and have assisted in over 120 legal safe infant surrenders – 22 of which have been through baby boxes.

Previously, Long Beach city attorney Steve Simpson told Kelly that “implementing this program and the annual fees that come with this, as far as maintenance and equipment, need some further discussion with the vendor. There is some legal language that requires you to provide some identification that the city cannot do under state law.”

Shortly after, Kelly expressed that donations and other types of fundraising will undoubtedly happen once the legal language of the contract is worked out and board approved.

The Mississippi legislature currently has a bill, HB 1318, set to be discussed this weekend that would revise the provisions regulating baby drop-off locations.

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