The first Baby Box in Mississippi was made available 24/7 to serve women in crisis with the blessing on Wednesday morning at the Long Beach Central Fire Station.
The Baby Box is featured on the south end of the building and allows for the complete anonymous surrender of an infant under Mississippi’s Safe Haven Law. The Long Beach Baby Box is the 158th location in the nation. This year has seen an uptick in surrenders via Baby Box with 14 so far.
Safe Haven Baby Boxes fills the void in the Safe Haven movement as the only organization in the nation dedicated to providing an anonymous surrender option for mothers in crisis. The organization was founded in 2016 by Monica Kelsey who learned in adulthood she was abandoned as an infant. Now, her life’s mission is to end infant abandonment and advocate for the Safe Haven Law.
In addition to educating citizens on the Safe Haven Law, Safe Haven Baby Boxes provide free confidential counseling via their hotline 1-866-99BABY1.
“We are ecstatic to have Mississippi added to our growing list of states that offer Baby Boxes to protect vulnerable populations,” Kelsey said. “Every Box is a visual representation of the Safe Haven Law and an additional protection measure for women in crisis. We can end infant abandonment by making sure anonymous surrender is allowed in dire circumstances. We will be there when no one else is supportive and we will not judge the situation.”
The project was made possible due to the generosity and support of Caitlin & Steve Kelly, Mississippi State Representative Jill Ford, Bottom 2 Top Construction, Commercial Electric Co., and Hunter Dawkins with The Gazebo Gazette.
“In light of the Safe Haven Baby Box Mission arriving in Mississippi, I believe that the journey to meet the needs of one of our state’s most vulnerable populations has just begun,” Caitlyn and Steve Kelly said in a joint statement. “Looking forward, we need to focus our efforts on educating our schools, hospitals, and community about the Safe Haven Law, crisis resources, and how to effectively utilize them. We are forever grateful for those who have been a part of the process to make this a reality here in our great state. This mission is just beginning.”
A Baby Box allows for the legal, safe, and anonymous surrender of an infant provided under the Safe Haven Law. It features three silent alarms alerting first responders to the presence of a surrendered infant. The baby will be attended to within five minutes and taken to the hospital for medical evaluation. Adoption occurs within 30 to 45 days by families who are signed up for foster care with the intention to adopt.
Since 2017, 35 infants have been placed in a Baby Box. Nationwide, over 130 surrenders have resulted from calling the National Safe Haven Baby Box hotline. Safe Haven Baby Boxes are currently available in Indiana, Ohio, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and now Mississippi.