• 36°

Car seat grant program could save lives

Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death and injury for children.

Thankfully, car seats reduce the risk of injury to children in accidents by 71 to 82 percent and reduce the risk of death by 28 percent. And for older children, booster seats provide similar protection by reducing injuries by 45 percent among 4- to 8-year-olds, compared to seat belt use alone.

These safety improvements are possible because seat belts and car seats contact the strongest parts of the body, spread crash forces over a wide area, slow down the body’s movements and protect the brain and spinal cord.

Unfortunately, some families do not have the means to provide the most effective and protective car seats for children. For families that struggle to make ends meet, affording a reliable car seat or booster seat can be a difficult and sometimes impossible task.

Thankfully, several Clark County agencies have partnered to help local families meet this crucial need.

New Beginnings, a local parenting and pregnancy care center, and Clark County Community Services have partnered to administer a grant for 100 car seats and booster seats to families in need.

The grant comes from car seat manufacturer Evenflo and was awarded to New Beginnings, which has partnered with CCCS with concern about proper car seat usage.

CCCS Director Debbie Fatkin said she and New Beginnings officials noticed a lack of education among some parents about which car seats to use and how to properly install them in vehicles.

After a 6-month-old was killed in a crash on Interstate 64 and it was determined the car seat was not installed properly, the need was reinforced.

The grant included 60 car seats and 40 booster seats that will be provided free-of-charge to parents who completed a safety and training class through New Beginnings. The two-hour classes are tough by certified car seat instructors. Upon completion, parents receive a certificate they can present to CCCS staff, who will deliver the car seat to Winchester Fire-EMS for proper installation and hands-on instruction from firefighters who are also trained car seat installers.

This program is a perfect example of how various agencies can partner to rectify a problem in our community. By working together, these three agencies — CCCS, New Beginnings and Winchester Fire-EMS — are able to provide a better chance at protection against vehicle accidents for at least 100 local children. It is our hope more parents will be encouraged to have their car seats installed by professionals and learn some of the important details surrounding properly installing car seats.

These programs are free to the community but have the potential to pay huge benefits.

Hopefully, this grant program is one that can continue in future years. Saving even one life would be worth the effort.