TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida could expand the number of days a parent can surrender a newborn baby at an authorized location and allow those sites to install a "baby box" so parents can leave an infant without face-to-face contact under a bill passed by the House Thursday.
Florida now allows parents to anonymously surrender a newborn approximately seven days old at a hospital, fire station or emergency medical services station. The bill passed on a 108-11 vote would expand that window to approximately 30 days after a baby is born.
It also would allow for a baby box at any of those facilities that are staffed 24 hours a day. The box would set off an alarm in the facility if a baby is placed in it. Staff also would be required to check the box twice a day and test the alarm weekly.
There have been 324 babies surrendered in Florida since the safe haven law was enacted in 2000, compared to 62 that were abandoned in unsafe places, according to a legislative staff analysis.
The Senate bill has one more committee stop before being considered by the full chamber.