Harrison City Council voted unanimously to support the installation of a Safe Haven Baby Box at its regular meeting June 21, 2022.
Reach Out Pregnancy Center Executive Director Diane Elrod and Chairwoman Amy Searcy presented Council with information about the program, which has saved babies’ lives in other communities. The Baby Box provides a completely secure, climate-controlled and anonymous place where a parent in crisis can safely surrender their baby. Within five minutes, babies are retrieved by first responders and given a full medical evaluation.
"The collaboration between Reach Out, Harrison City Council and Harrison Fire Department is our biggest project to date," Searcy said. "We have named the project to purchase and implement the Safe Haven Baby Box, 'Operation Moses.' We are fully committed to providing an option for life for unexpected newborns and their parents, which is part of our mission.”
Harrison Fire Chief Rob Hursong has expressed his support for having a baby box at one of Harrison’s two fire stations.
According to Ohio law, a parent may relinquish their child less than 30 days old without penalty if the child is given to hospital staff, police, fire or emergency medical personnel. Use of the baby box is covered by this law and a similar “Safe Haven” law in Indiana.
The Council decision is the first step in a process that Elrod hopes to complete this year. The cost of installing a baby box will be about $20,000 including construction, training, testing and marketing. Reach Out plans to host a fundraiser to cover the expense.
"We are thrilled to partner with the City and fire department to bring this life-saving option to Harrison," said Elrod. "So much of what we are able to do at Reach Out to help women and men facing unplanned pregnancies is because of the tremendous support we receive from the community."
Parents facing immediate pregnancy concerns are encouraged to contact Reach Out at (513) 367-7710 for free services, supplies and options.