‘Baby boxes,’ false abuse reporting bills clear House

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Members of the Kentucky House of Representatives approved legislation Tuesday aimed at saving newborn lives by providing a safe surrender option.

Representative Nancy Tate of Brandenburg sponsored House Bill 155 which would define and allow the use of a “newborn safety device” related to the anonymous surrendering of a newborn infant in the Commonwealth at a participating staffed police station, staffed fire station, or a staffed hospital.

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Baby boxes are temperature-controlled, ventilated boxes that can be installed easily at public buildings or other safe places throughout a community. They are monitored electronically for safety and 911 is notified as soon as the outer door of the box is opened.

Once the infant is placed into the bassinet and the door is closed, a second sensor triggers emergency services.

A button on the outside of the box also allows whoever placed the baby in the safe box to trigger another call to 911. Emergency personnel usually arrives at the site in less than five minutes.

In 2016, the “Safe Haven Baby Box” program was added to state law in Indiana. Since the program was enacted and the Safe Haven Baby Box program became an option, no infants have been reported as abandoned.

To review co-sponsors and specific details of HB 155, please visit the Legislative Research Commission website or follow the link here.

 The Kentucky House also passed a measure that would require individuals receiving a report of suspected child abuse or neglect to collect and keep confidential the identifying information, including name, telephone number, and home address from the individual making the report.

The legislation also stipulates there is a penalty for knowingly and intentionally making a false report. The measure, HB 221, is sponsored by Representative Kim Moser, R-Taylor Mill.

“Collecting identifying information is a simple task that will help to quickly investigate and resolve allegations of child abuse and neglect,” Moser said. “Our goal is to cut down on false reports so that real instances of abuse can be addressed. This bill is an important step in the fight against child abuse and neglect in the Commonwealth.”

The bill mandates the person’s identity who is reporting the alleged abuse or neglect be kept confidential. The measure will now move to the Senate for consideration.