The Help Me Grow program is helping make sure parents are equipped to keep their children safe, offering car seats and cribs for free to participating families.
Help Me Grow provides services to expecting mothers and to children age 3 and under with developmental delays. The program works closely with the Scioto County Board of Developmental Disabilities, which provides early childhood developmental specialist to evaluate the children and work closely to build their muscles, speech, and motor skills. The program is available to anyone, regardless of their income.
“This summer, the Ohio Department of Health, through some federal grants, had some extra money and we ended up with about $45,000 extra dollars that we spent buying important things for our families,” said Rebecca Wheelersburg, of the Help Me Grow program.
With this additional funding, the program bought 100 infant car seats and 100 infant-to-toddler car seats. The program partners with the Portsmouth City Health Department to train its staff to teach parents how to correctly and safely install the car seats.
“Many of our families pick these up at yard sales because they are expensive, but it’s important to buy them new because car seats do end up breaking down after a while. They have expiration dates, and we just want to make sure all of our families are safe out there,” Wheelersburg said.
The Help Me Grow program also purchased pack-and-plays and porta-cribs to promote safe-sleep practices. Wheelersburg said the state of Ohio is among the worst states for infant sleep mortality rates, and the Help Me Grow program wants to help educate parents about the dangers and safe sleep practices.
“We want to make sure kids have safe sleeping places; that kids aren’t sleeping with their parents or in places that are too soft,” she said.
Home Visitor Laura Estep has been with Help Me Grow for nearly eight years, assisting many families.
“It’s a great feeling to go in and help them in any way I can, and they help me too. We become friends, and get together, and our visits are very enjoyable,” Estep said. “Some of them don’t have parents they can talk to, especially if they’re pregnant and going through it for the first time. That’s what I’m here for.”
For more information about the South Central Ohio ESC, visit online at www.scoesc.org, or follow on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.