Safe Sleep Initiative to Launch In Sarasota

Todays News


A new program designed to cut down on infant mortality rates will launch this week in Sarasota, according to Department of Children and Families officials. If successful, the Safe Sleep Sarasota Initiative could expand to other parts of Florida as well.

"The overall goal is to reduce unsafe and preventable child deaths in Florida, and also within that region," said Natalie Harrell, DCF communications director. "It's a matter of education and an understanding that unsafe sleep is the direct result for a lot of the infant deaths we've been experiencing all along."

The program launch on Oct. 30 will attract to town DCF Secretary Mike Carroll and state Surgeon General and Department of Health Secretary John Armstrong, alongside Community Foundation of Sarasota CEO Roxie Jerde. Partners in the Safe Sleep Sarasota Initiative include Healthy Start Coalition of Sarasota County, Department of Health in Sarasota County, Family Safety Alliance, Florida Department of Children and Families, Safe Children Coalition, Sarasota Y, Sarasota Sheriff’s Office, Early Learning Coalition, The Florida Center, Children First and Sarasota Memorial Hospital. 

The effort will stress the ABCs of Safe Sleep, according to Harrell. That is: A, alone sleep instead of with another child or adult; B, back sleeping to allow for open airways; and C, crib sleeping, whether in a permanent crib or Pack-N-Play-type device as opposed to an adult bed. All of this will cut down on the chance of "positional asphyxiation," which most medical officials now consider one of the worst causes of infant deaths.

The initiative focuses on babies in the first six months of their life, with an emphasis on those in the critical 3- or 4-month-old age group. 

The effort is launching in Sarasota in large part thanks to the philanthropic support of the community foundation here, Harrell said. A $5,000-grant awarded for the project allows for the effort to move forward without excessive government funding.

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