Throughout our lives, we are never as vulnerable as we are in our infancy. It’s imperative that infants in Central New York are taken care of and protected. But what if the parents are in need of the same support?
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), there were 1,389 cases of Sudden Unexpected Infant Death in 2020, with more than 90 deaths occurring in New York State every year. Many such incidents can be attributed to unsafe sleeping practices, such as sleeping on the stomach or side, sleeping with other people or pets, or having thick blankets.
REACH CNY, an organization that provides resources, education, advocacy, and collaborative programming to improve health and advance health equity, recognized that providing a safe sleep environment for infants is challenging for families that face financial barriers to purchasing a safe crib. To help reduce the risks of unsafe sleep, the organization partnered with public and community health workers, pediatric providers, and hospitals to bring the Cribs for Kids program to Central New York in 2005.
The Crib for Kids program, originally launched in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1998, offers safe sleep education for providers and clients and provides portable cribs (Cribettes) to parents and caregivers that cannot otherwise afford a safe place for their infants to sleep. Through its network of over 1,800 partners, the program spreads a clear, concise safe sleep message throughout the country, resulting in a decrease in infant sleep-related deaths.
As a Cribs for Kids partner, REACH CNY accepts referrals from trained Safe Sleep Educators that identify families in need of cribs. To become a Safe Sleep Educator, health and human service professionals ranging from public health nurses to community health workers, participate in online training. REACH CNY’s Cribs for Kids program serves families residing in Onondaga and Oswego Counties, from six weeks before the infant’s birth up to about 10 months of age. The national Cribs for Kids website lists other Cribs for Kids affiliates in the State. REACH CNY’s Cribs for Kids program has distributed over 1500 cribs to families in Central New York.
In order to support its efforts, REACH CNY recently received a $4,100 grant from the CNY Community Foundation to assist with the purchase and transport of Cribettes. This unit, which has all the safety features of the Pack n Play, brings the infant safe sleep message front and center to all caregivers with the safe sleep message imprinted on the fabric – “A B C – Alone on my Back in a Crib.” This makes the Cribette an educational tool, in addition to being a safe sleep environment.
In addition to Cribs for Kids, REACH CNY works in a variety of other areas, including Community Health Worker home visiting for pregnant and parenting women, adolescent pregnancy prevention, safe syringe disposal, and breastfeeding support for Central New York mothers. This work has supported the health and well-being of families in Central New York, and the Community Foundation is proud to assist REACH CNY in its efforts.