Safe Babies is a program offered by the Jefferson County Community Partnership to help parents of newborns provide a safer life for their child. It offers classes to parents on sudden infant death syndrome, shaken baby syndrome, prenatal drug exposure and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. It also gives parents the chance to receive safe sleep sets for their babies, which includes Pack ’N Play fitted sheets and a receiving blanket.
Safe Babies started as a prevention program to decrease the number of deaths of infants and children in Jefferson County. It gets funding from multiple sources, including the Old Newsboys Day Foundation, Children’s Trust Fund and the Caring Communities contract with the Department of Social Services. Safe Babies operates all year and also offers training at area high schools.
In training classes, the community partnership gives parents the information they need to prepare for the unexpected hardships that come with being a parent. The trainings include a series of three PowerPoint presentations and videos. Participants can get hands on and work with simulator mannequins during the class. Brochures on SIDS and SBS are also handed out.
The safe sleep sets are granted on a need basis. To qualify, families must attend one of the community partnership’s scheduled training meetings, be a current, full-time resident of Jefferson County, be the parent or guardian of a child age 1 or younger, lack a safe sleeping area for their baby and/or have no means of obtaining one, and currently receive or qualify for WIC (the Special Supplement Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children) through the Jefferson-Franklin Community Action.
Safe Babies not only benefits the community of Jefferson County, but also benefits those who help to run it. Tracy Smith, the executive director of the Jefferson County Community Partnership, commented on how valuable the program is to the staff.
“The most rewarding part about Safe Babies is knowing that parents, often brand new, first-time parents, are learning information on how they can dramatically reduce the risk of SIDS, and how SBS is completely preventable,” she said. “Reducing even one tragedy is a huge reward of Jefferson County Community Partnership offering its Safe Babies program to the community.”
Families who take advantage of the Safe Babies program often qualify for other programs offered by the community partnership. These include Parenting Network and Project COPE (Creating Opportunities for Parental Empowerment). These programs, similarly to Safe Babies, teach parents how to effectively support a family, how to accomplish family goals and how to reduce stress within the family.
People who have taken advantage of the programs provided by the community partnership have not been disappointed.
One participant from a training class said Safe Babies “gave me more knowledge as a parent. I learned things about SIDS I was never aware of.” The partnership holds trainings each month and stresses that its training and equipment are always available when needed.