COLUMBIA CITY – After the safe transfer of an infant from its mother to the Columbia City Fire Department on Tuesday morning under the Safe Haven law, city officials are considering installing a Baby Box in the city.
“We absolutely need to begin looking into this,” Columbia City Councilwoman Jennifer Romano said. “We definitely need to be real about this and consider that this could happen again in our community.”
Early Tuesday morning, Columbia City’s dispatch was alerted to a female who wanted to surrender her baby under the Indiana Safe Haven Law, Mayor Ryan Daniel said in a news release Tuesday afternoon.
The child was safety given to the CCFD, which ensured its safe delivery to Parkview Whitley Hospital. The child was then given to the Indiana Department of Child Services.
“It was very brave and honorable for this parent to make the decision to safety surrender their child,” Romano said. “That cannot be an easy decision.”
Currently, those wishing to surrender their child under the Safe Haven Law in Columbia City have to do so through a face-to-face transaction because there are no Baby Boxes in Whitley County.
“They had to see other people to do this,” Romano said. “I think there may be others who might not be so brave and might make a terrible decision.”
Romano plans to speak with fellow councilmen and city officials about installing a box in the city. They can range in price from $1,500 to $10,000, which can be offset by possible grant funding.
The boxes are heated in the winter and cooled in the summer, and will alert authorities when a baby has been placed inside.
In Indiana, parents must turn over their child before they are 45 days old in order to not face legal ramifications.
Daniel said the child was in good health, and to his knowledge, was the first infant surrendered to Columbia City under the law.
“It sounds like it went really well this time, but what about next time,” Romano said. “I wouldn’t want someone to make the wrong decision for the sake of the child. There are a lot of parents out there who would love the opportunity to raise that child. So anything we can do to help facilitate that and make it easier for everyone involved, we should look into doing.
“Today illustrates a good reason why it needs to be a priority.”