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Under expanded Iowa Safe Haven Act, Fort Dodge to have state's 1st 'baby box'

A baby box is a type of cradle where infants are left anonymously to be cared for by others.

FORT DODGE, Iowa — The Fort Dodge Fire Department will soon have Iowa's first baby box installed at their station, the city's fire chief says.

A baby box is a type of cradle where infants are left anonymously to be cared for by others under Iowa's Safe Haven Act. 

Enacted in 2002, the Safe Haven Act originally allowed parents or guardians to leave an infant, aged 90 days or less, at a health care facility without fear of repercussion. 

More than 50 children have been surrendered since the law was enacted, according to Iowa Health and Human Services. 

The Iowa Legislature recently voted to expand the Safe Haven Act to include the use of "newborn safety devices" at facilities that are staffed 24 hours a day with first responders, such as a fire station.

Newborn safety devices must be padded and climate-controlled, and located in an area where staff have constant access. 

While the expansion has not been signed into law yet, it was sent to Gov. Kim Reynolds on May 9. 

Fort Dodge's baby box will follow the guidelines set out by the new legislation. 

The chief says the box will be operational around July 1. 

The new baby box comes months after a mother and father in Fort Dodge were charged in the drowning death of their newborn baby

Brandon Thoma and Taylor Blaha were arrested in early December for their alleged involvement in the crime. Both suspects have pleaded not guilty.

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