by Hunter Dawkins, Publisher/AP Member –

In a monumental action Tuesday night, September 20, 2022, the Long Beach Board of Aldermen approved setting an ordinance to allow a Safe Haven baby box at a regulated location within the city.  The procedure will be the first baby box in the state of Mississippi plus between Texas and Georgia.

The Box itself is located inside a local fire station/police station or hospital. It contains a silent alarm that activates as soon as the mother opens the box.

A second sensor activates once the infant is laid into the medical grade bassinet. EMS/911 Dispatch is activated upon the box opening. 

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

Upon the request and explanation at Tuesday’s city board meeting, Long Beach City Attorney and former Director of Mississippi Public Safety Steve Simpson, advised the aldermen to adopt a city ordinance which they unanimously did.

“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,” expressed Safe Haven Baby Box organizer Caitlin 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 a woman named Monica Kelsey. She was an abandoned baby herself in Indiana back in the 1970s and she has made it her mission that the Safe Haven organization’s primary goal is to raise awareness for Safe Haven Law.

Her organization also provides a national 24 hour hotline where mothers can receive assistance free of charge. 

To date, this hotline has helped more than 8,000 women from every state in the United States. They have referred over 500 women to crisis centers and have assisted in over 120 legal safe infant surrenders and to date 22 babies have been surrendered in Baby Boxes, 7 of those babies have been surrendered just this year.

None of the appropriation used for location or equipment will be from city funding.  Each box around the country has raised private funds and worked with contractors to place the box at a city location.

After the ordinance is approved at the next board meeting on Tuesday, October 4, 2022, the city of Long Beach will begin finding the appropriate area.