The city of Kokomo will soon be home to a Safe Haven Baby Box, thanks in part to a local organization.
The box will be the first one in Howard County and one of nearly two dozen in the state.
The Kokomo Knights of Columbus [KofC] is paying for the initial cost of the box and its future installation — estimated to be between $10,000-$15,000.
According to the Safe Haven Baby Box’s website, the device is provided under Indiana’s Safe Haven Law, which legally “enables a person to give up an unwanted infant anonymously without fear of arrest or prosecution” as long as there are no signs of intentional abuse placed on that child.
The spacious box is temperature-controlled and is placed in an exterior wall of a designated hospital or fire station, with a door that automatically locks when an infant is placed inside.
There is also an alarm system attached to the baby box that is triggered in a matter of seconds and alerts dispatch and medical personnel that an infant is inside. An interior door then allows those authorities to swiftly open up the box and retrieve the infant.
Kokomo’s box is expected to be placed at Kokomo Fire Department Station 1 located at 215 W. Superior St., and KFD Chief Chris Frazier said that a small section of the building will have to be retrofitted to allow for the new installation.
Recent Indiana Department of Child Services statistics indicate that Safe Haven Baby Boxes helped save the lives of a handful of Hoosier babies in 2019. Dick Moore, KofC member and owner of Moore Title & Escrow, is hoping that having a baby box here in Kokomo will have the same impact.
“I guess your hope is that you save a baby’s life,” he said. “Even if you just save one, the $10,000 or whatever you spend is worth it. You’ve saved that baby’s life. That’s our hope is that there will be enough publicity out there that young ladies will know it’s there and will have the privacy to drop off their babies as opposed to discarding them or something worse.
“… I thought this would be a good thing on our part to show the community the importance of babies in our life,” Moore continued. “… Being a fraternal Catholic men’s organization, we [KofC] support our churches with donations and stuff throughout the year. … When I saw this, I guess I just thought this is something that the Knights should do.”
Moore said he addressed the idea with his son, Kokomo Mayor Tyler Moore, who had heard about the baby boxes at a recent Holy Family Catholic Conference.
And like his father, the mayor was excited about the possibility.
“I thought it was a pretty cool concept and thought it would be cool if Kokomo had one to make that available as an option for a mother who may be afraid of the uncertainties of parenthood,” Mayor Moore said via telephone Thursday afternoon. “You can’t put a price on someone’s life or an infant’s life, and so comparatively, if there’s the opportunity to save even one infant’s life, it’s more than worth it.”
The mayor also pointed out on Thursday that while the KofC is paying for the purchase and installation, the city will still need to enter into a contract with the Safe Haven Baby Boxes company, one that will run anywhere between $200-$300 annually.
City officials are still reviewing that contract but anticipate the box to be ordered, delivered and installed over the next few weeks.