JCFD holding fundraiser for safe haven baby box

Published 9:08 am Wednesday, September 6, 2023

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The Jessamine County Fire Department is holding a fundraiser to purchase and install the first safe haven baby box in the county, it would be one of the first in the Bluegrass region.

Baby boxes have already been installed in Louisville, Corbin and Danville. It’s a new, anonymous way for parents to find their newborn a new home. As soon as the parent opens the baby box attached to the city building it’s been installed in, a silent alarm goes off to notify staff that the box has been opened. Once the baby is placed in the hospital bassinet inside the baby box, the staff receives another alarm that something is in the box. Once the parent shuts the door, the door to the box locks and can only be opened from the inside.

Right now, all fire departments in the county are still safe havens. Per the Kentucky Safe Infants Act, parents can leave newborn infants younger than 30 days at a staffed police station, fire station, hospital, or participating place of worship without fear of criminal prosecution or allegation of neglect.

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But, as opposed to safe haven baby boxes, this isn’t anonymous, and that lack of anonymity may lead some parents to make a decision out of desperation.

The Jessamine County Fire Marshal, Josh Bolton, who launched this fundraiser, said, “A lot of people really don’t want to do that in person so this is a good, safe option where they can do it anonymously, and nobody’s ever the wiser.”

In the past few years, with access to abortion becoming practically non-existent due to law, many who do not want children have been placed in tough situations.

Indeed, one of Fire Marshal Bolton’s main concerns was the alternative some new parents take.

“There’ve been so many cases of babies – even in Lexington – found in dumpsters, and we don’t want that to happen anymore,” Bolton said.

Although he said he has never seen this happen in Nicholasville, he understands it’s still possible.

“I’ve wanted to do this for about two years with the department, but I finally got in the position to make it happen. I took over as fire marshal in early August of last year, and I actually got to the point where I could make it happen.” Bolton said he spoke to his supervisors and city officials to approve this baby box. “It took a little bit of leg work to get all the permissions and everything, but now we’re all good to go, just waiting on funds.

The process is simple once the fire station receives a newborn in the baby box. The staff handles the baby’s immediate needs and contacts the Department of Child Protection Services for the newborn to be taken through the foster process.

“There’s no shortage of parents wanting babies, so they’ll have somebody take the child that same night or day. It’s the older kids, unfortunately, that they have a hard time with as far as the foster system.” Bolton said.

For the whole project, Bolton said he will need $16,000. The baby boxes are made to order, including the construction and price of the baby box and its installation. As of last week, the fire department has raised $7,100.

The baby box will be installed in the fire station near Brannon Road, and Bolton said he would also like one in southern Jessamine County as well.

Those interested in donating can do so at the following link: https://secure.qgiv.com/for/babyboxfundraiserfornicholasvilleky/?fbclid=IwAR10vFKia049DKDMCga2Q1WzsBJapKY8AIwATc4CPO3PHb2l9jUU7xL1v1g.