Milwaukee Health Dept. gets grant to combat co-sleeping

MILWAUKEE -- The Milwaukee Health Department has received a $50,000 grant for its "Cribs for Kids" program - money that will be used to try to eliminate co-sleeping deaths. The program helps low-income families walk away with more than just a portable crib.

The program may provide financial aid to hundreds of families, but it also helps educate, families on how to prevent these tragic co-sleeping deaths. "Every year in this city we lose approximately 20 infants to unsafe sleep. It makes the most vulnerable in our community safer, and that's something we must do. It's a long road ahead to make these cultural behavior changes, but we just took a quantum leap," Health Department Director Bevan Baker said.

Mayor Barrett and the Milwaukee Health Department are trying to change the alarming numbers, and the culture. "It's going to take a lot of education, and it's going to take a lot of people rethinking how they've acted for years," Mayor Barrett said.

To help their cause, the UnitedHealth Foundation donated $50,000 to Milwaukee's "Cribs for Kids" program. The donation will ensure 700 Milwaukee families will obtain vital information about infant safe sleep, and assure each has a safe place for their baby to sleep.

Low-income families with a baby six months old or younger will be able to receive a portable crib. However, before they receive the crib, they'll hear this message: "the safest place for your baby to sleep is their own crib or bassinet." That message will be repeated at a class hosted a one of the safe sleep clinics throughout the city, where families will learn proper sleep positions and environments for their babies.

"We realize that education and outreach may be the toughest and most important strategy that we'll ever have to implement. We're able to provide that education and access to a safe sleep place for our children in this community," Mayor Barrett said.

If you're interested in learning more about the "Cribs for Kids" program, you can make an appointment at one of the safe sleep clinics. Each appointment lasts about an hour. During that time, the parent learns about safe sleep practices and is given a demonstration of how to set up and take down the portable crib.  To contact the Cribs for Kids Program by phone, call (414)286-8620. You can also visit the Milwaukee Health Department's Cribs for Kids info. page by CLICKING HERE. Or visit the Cribs for Kids Facebook page HERE.