FOLEY – Foley will become one of 10 locations across Alabama where mothers who cannot care for their new babies can find a new home for their child, under a new state program.
Foley Fire Chief Joey Darby said that in upcoming months, the city’s main fire station is scheduled to become a drop-off point for the program initiated by Alabama Rep. Donna Givens. Givens sponsored a bill to create 10 locations around the state.
“It does create some circumstances that encourage folks that can’t take care of babies to leave them at fire stations and we’ve always viewed fire stations around the country as one of their safe places,” Darby said.
The chief said Foley firefighters have been working to bring one of the locations to the area. He said Baldwin County is a good choice for one of the sites.
“I’ll credit my staff,” Darby said. “We had some internal conversation asking why can’t Foley be one of those? As busy as we are with as many visitors with a demographic that is evolving all the time and our proximity to the South Baldwin Regional Medical Center, why couldn’t we be one?”
Mayor Ralph Hellmich said that while most of the proposed sites for the program are in the state’s larger cities, a location in the rapidly growing area of Baldwin County, would be a good choice for one of the stations.
“The bill was really set up for the 10 biggest cities,” Hellmich said. “Baldwin County doesn’t have a giant city, but it has 240,000 people, even though we don’t have something like Tuscaloosa or even Auburn. It’s really an incredible thing.”
Darby said work will not begin on setting up the program until funding is available after September. He said plans call for a climate controlled drop-off site to be built at the station in a private, secure location..
“Between now and then, it about what it’s going to take to retrofit our fire station,” Darby told City Council members. “Obviously, some things will have to be done. And then if that involves some costs, I’ll obviously be coming back to you to see what we can do there. But I want to make you aware of it. I think it’s a great thing for us. I think it’s a great thing for our area. We hope it’s never needed, but we want it to be there in case it is.”