With the goal of reducing the number of infant deaths that occur from unsafe sleeping practices, Brevard C.A.R.E.S. the organization dedicated to protecting children and preventing abuse and neglect recently became a Cribs for Kids® chapter; the first in Brevard County.

  Through a trademark licensing agreement with Sudden Infant Death Services (SIDS) of Pennsylvania, Brevard C.A.R.E.S. will conduct community outreach programs to raise awareness and educate adults about the dangers of unsafe sleeping practices for children, as well as provide Grayco Pack n’ Play portable cribs to parents and caregivers with children from birth to six months of age.

Children in unsafe sleep environments, including adult beds, are at 40 times greater risk of dying. Cribs for Kids began in 2004 when four Pennsylvania nonprofit organizations recognized the need for a safe sleep initiative in their communities, due to the large number of infant deaths, all of which involved unsafe sleep practices.  Since then, over 250 chapters have been added in 47 states.

Brevard C.A.R.E.S. is part of the Safe Sleep Coalition of Brevard County which includes the State of Florida Department of Children and Families, Children’s Advocacy Center, United Way of Brevard’s Healthy Families, Healthy Start, and Wuesthoff Hospital System. The group formed last year when Brevard County experienced a dramatic increase in the number of fatalities related to infants in unsafe sleeping environments. The circumstances of theses deaths became all the more tragic by the fact that all of the deaths were preventable.

“Even one death that is preventable is one too many,” said Brevard C.A.R.E.S. executive director, Valerie Holmes.  “Cribs for Kids will help to provide a safe sleeping environment for young children and engage those who are caring for them, addressing education, crib affordability, and cultural practices regarding familial sleeping arrangements. Our target population will be mothers and fathers of infants, less than six months of age, and family caregivers like grandparents, and aunts and uncles.”

There is no charge to families seeking the cribs and no income parameters. To be eligible to receive the Pack and Play, parents or caregivers must complete an education and awareness component about safe sleeping practices, the dangers of co-sleeping, and the risk factors associated with Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Education programs take place at Brevard C.A.R.E.S. Family Resource Center – 4085 South U.S. Hwy. 1, in Rockledge. Referrals will be accepted from any agency or organization providing services to families and children; a family can also refer themselves. Those interested in a making a referral to the Cribs for Kids Program can call Brevard C.A.R.E.S. at (321) 632-2737.

The program includes the “Back to Sleep” initiative that was launched in 2001 and is based on the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation of “back-sleep” positions for infants.  The number of SIDS death in the United States decreased by 53% between 1992 and 2001 after the initiative was launched.

In the U.S., SIDS is the leading cause of death for infants one month to one year of age and each year claims the lives of nearly 2,500 infants and young children. In addition, there are up to 2,000 sudden, unexpected infant deaths (SUID) caused by accidental suffocation or accidents during sleep. For many of these children, the safe sleep and safety recommendations set forth by First Candle and the American Academy of Pediatrics may have been able to save their lives.