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Newsroom Department for Children and Families takes important step to reduce infant mortality rate in Kansas

Nearly 30 employees become certified Safe Sleep instructors

To reduce the infant mortality rate in Kansas, 27 Department for Children and Families employees recently became certified Kansas Safe Sleep instructors.

“These new instructors, many of whom volunteered for the training, are not only champions for Safe Sleep, but they are champions for their community, for families and for babies,” said DCF Secretary Laura Howard. “We are proud to collaborate with the Kansas Infant Death and SIDS (KIDS) Network in working to promote safe sleep habits.”

DCF recognizes the need across the state for more Safe Sleep instructors and the need for promoting safe sleeping habits for infants. Earlier this year DCF implemented the Universal Infant Referral policy requiring child protection workers to assess the infant’s sleep environment using guidance from the KIDS Network and SAFE Kids Kansas.

The new DCF policy that took effect July 1 also mandates child protection workers, when working with a family that has an infant under the age of one, refer the family to community-based infant-toddler and home visitor programs.

“I’ve never seen a policy put through so quickly,” said Christy Schunn, executive director of KIDS Network. “We had this conversation in May, and by July there was a policy in place. And by August they were calling and asking for trainings, and then they had half the people at this training. That’s phenomenal. That’s responding to a need in the community — that fast. Working with systems and things for years, that happened faster than I’ve ever seen it happen before. I think DCF is taking this issue very, very seriously. I’m so glad to partner with them.”

The new DCF Safe Sleep instructors will now educate other professionals and hold community baby showers to promote sleep safe practices for infants across the state.

Community baby showers are an interactive and educational event for expectant parents and their support people to learn the ABCs of Safe Sleep — all babies should sleep Alone, on their Backs, and in a clutter-free Crib.

“It’s really exciting to be a part of this group with DCF,” said Michelle Reichart, DCF Independent Living Program Manager. “There are dozens of Safe Sleep trainers around the state, but we’re adding a large number to that group. I feel grateful to be one of the ones to make sure that this very important, yet simple knowledge is passed on to everyone that can use it.”

With the newly trained Safe Sleep instructors, there are now 113 active in 56 counties.