Oh, dear! The Putative Boss’ (PB) favorite baby box proprietor is in an uproar over an op-ed in the University of Dayton’s Flyer News entitled OPINION: Are Baby Drop Boxes a realistic option for giving up newborn babies anonymously? The editorial questioned both the need for and the ethics of baby boxing.
Monday morning founder and CEO Monica Kelsey (or her social media guy Kevin Albin) posted this puzzling response to the Flyer editorial—not to my article, since, Meow!, neither myself nor PB exist in the eyes of the box pushers except as a couple of unhinged gripers.
So the Ohio dept of Health on their website and in this article states that Baby Boxes are not a way to surrender a newborn in the state of Ohio.
Its clear that the Ohio dept of Health doesn’t support Baby Boxes. Its sad that they are trying to shut down the boxes at Ohio Fire Stations and take this resource away from women.
The time is now to stand up and be heard.
I had to go back and look at the editorial again. THAT just didn’t sound right. And guess what? It’s not!
Before I begin, the Ohio Department of Health website (ODH) does not contain a Safe Haven law information page. That page is housed on the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services site (ODJFS). Ren Sikes, the author of the editorial, clearly names ODJFS as the information source and links to it. ODH, however, does feature a small “Newborn Safety Incubator” business page with links to the state-required Baby Box Registration and Attestation of Compliance forms, and a list of state-registered installers and requirements to become one. SHBB’s citing the ODH “safe haven webpage” as the source of its exclusion calls into question the remainder of the rant, though I concede that ODH, like most state agencies related to public health and safety and child welfare, are not. baby box friendly. Confusing ODH and ODJFS is more than a technical or clerical error. It is sloppy posting from the baby box “experts.”
Now that that is out of the way . . .
The ODJFS’s safe haven law webpage does not say that baby boxes are not a way to “safe haven a newborn” in Ohio under the Deserted Child Act (DCA) It simply excludes the baby box box “option” from the page. There’s a good reason for that. It’s not required to include boxes. Some time back, SSHBBN received a document from a state agency that says that, but we aren’t posting it here. If SHBB wants to see it, they can figure out what they are looking for and where to submit their own request.
Safe Haven Baby Boxes were legalized in Ohio in 2016 in a last-minute sneak-through to a large child welfare bill, and went into effect in April 2017. None have ever been used.
The boxes are not a state initiative or state-funded. They are neither owned nor leased by the state nor (shockingly) even inspected by the state! Outside of an Affidavit of Compliance and a registration form the state requires of baby box locations, the state has no real legal authority over their use, although it can investigate complaints regarding health and safety, as it has reportedly done recently over the situation in Union Township, Clermont County (see below). Safe Haven Baby Boxes are nothing more than a public service created by private industry and funded by private donations.
Moreover, the ODH, ODJFS or any other state or local government agency, is not mandated by law (and I’m betting, actually prohibited by law or regulation) to post or advertise the services of non-government entities—private corporations, non-profits, or ministries—which is just what SHBB Inc. is. It’s not even based in Ohio. The state doesn’t post the services of the National Safe Haven Alliance members or its hotline, why would it post the services of SHBB Inc?
It’s difficult enough to navigate a lot of government websites without advertising. Imagine the junk mail you would have to slough through if it was permitted! And imagine the liability issues!
Also puzzling is the SHBB Facebook inference that the editorial writer Ren Sikes is in some weird cahoots with ODH —really ODJFS—to oppose baby boxes. She certainly did not deny that baby boxes exist in Ohio, and actually linked her piece to the SHBB “location” page—something that DOH/ODJFS doesn’t.
According to Safe Haven Baby Boxes website, Ohio currently has six baby box locations available. Ohio is one of seven states that has baby drop box locations.
The only thing Sikes failed to mention is that after five years of laws and four years of boxes actually available in the state, the boxes remain unused.
Finally, I’m not sure what SHBB Inc is talking about when they say that the state wants to shut down baby boxes, unless they are talking about the Union Township, fiasco, which exposed incompetence and mismanagement on the part of the Union Township trustees, Fire Station #50, and the due diligence of Safe Haven Baby Boxes Inc. and Mrs. Kelsey—before and after it opened. During the recent Ohio Public Health Advisory Board mandatory review of the baby box law, the Union Township problems were discussed at length and board members asked intelligent and concerned questions about standards and uses of the boxes. Although the board has little authority over the implementation of laws that it reviews, members hinted that further research and investigation into the boxes may be in order. In no way did the board suggest they be abolished. The board, however, discussed “stakeholders,” which of course, did not include adopted people. But it’s a start, and we are looking into getting adoptees added to the list if something jumps off. Gee, might Mrs. Kelsey have a problem getting state sympathy since for years it has trashed-talked ODH/ODJFS or whoever she thinks they are talking about on TikTok and Facebook and demands her fanbase to contact the state’s governor and attorney general to demand they “protect” boxes? This is nuts!
I am really puzzled by the paranoid response that SHBB Inc has given this editorial. It’s not like Flyer News is a political force in these state or has a huge readership, or that Ren Sikes is a politically powerful columnist. It’s a college newspaper for Pete’s sake!
I can only surmise that the SHBB syndicate is so used to getting its own way in the media—especially local—that when someone dares to differ they get scared, real scared. When inconsistencies, legal issues, and regulation infractions are exposed, and obstacles and questions start to pop up, they get scared. Real scared. The reaction to the Flyer News editorial is ridiculous. On the face of it, the response is overblown, but there is something underneath it all. A melting snowflake? A small crack in the foundation? Is God angry? Just think how they will respond when the big pushback comes. It will, and the engine will be Mrs. Kelsey’s own hubris.
To learn more about just how little the State of Ohio is allowed to interfere or monitor the boxes and their use :
- Read our What the Hell post
- Read or watch the OPHRB meetings: comments and presentation or video
- Go to Hicks Watchdog for a lot more information on the Union Township fiasco*
Why is Safe Haven Baby Boxes So Afraid of Us?
In love and solidarity, Angelika, the Personal Assistant Cat