Advocates hoping life saving ‘baby boxes’ ready to go by end of year

It’s been almost a year since the Baby Moses law was updated to allow the use of climate-controlled devices where parents can anonymously surrender their infants.

SAN ANTONIO — Child advocates are praising the introduction of baby boxes in San Antonio, but as to when the safety devices will definitively be ready to go at fire stations remains unknown. 

“At those moments when this is critical for a baby’s life, at those moments when this crisis has become so much a part of this mother’s life that this safe surrender is the only way, this is where those safety devices becomes an obstacle for a trash can,” said Pam Allen, president and CEO of Eagles Flight Advocacy and Outreach, who hopes the baby boxes are installed by the end of the year. 

Gov. Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 780 into law on June 20, 2023, which expanded the state’s Baby Moses law to allow the installation of Newborn Safety Devices for families in crisis to surrender their babies at designated emergency locations like fire stations. 

Allen said the option for parents to remain anonymous when surrendering their child should is monumental since many tend to be intimidated when confronting officials.

“We’ve seen those instances where a trash can is the only option,” Allen said. “These safety devices completely minimize that interaction between a parent who has made a decision to safely surrender their child. This is another great attack on the Bexar County child abuse statistics.”

Allen paints a disturbing picture of abandoned and abused babies in San Antonio. 

“The number of infants that have been abandoned and abused that we’ve buried, it’s now 55,” Allen said.

The City of San Antonio has allocated $250,000 for 10-12 baby boxes, which are temperature controlled and come equipped with alarm systems. 

Joe Arrington, public information officer with the San Antonio Fire Department, said there’s much work to be done as it relates to figuring out construction costs and annual maintenance fees related to the leased baby boxes. Assessing which fire stations are most suitable for the safety devices is also priority. 

“In the budget, what can we do, working with council, working with city government and saying what stations are suitable to receive one as a retrofit but again, all of our new stations that we’ve built will have it,” said Arrington.

Arrington stressed fire stations continue to be sanctuaries for those who wish to safely hand over their infants. 

“Whether or not we have a box here in San Antonio, every fire station is available for surrendering a baby if that’s where life is taking you and that’s what you choose to do,” said Arrington.

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