California County Gets a Government Grant to Provide Free Car Seats

Contra Costa is putting this grant money to good use—will other counties nationwide follow suit?
ByNatalie Neusch
Contributing Writer
Published
Nov 2017
Woman strapping baby into car seat
Photo: iStock

The market for car seats is constantly expanding and changing, with even the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) revising its laws several years ago “to categorize by age rather than by type of child seat in order to keep pace with the latest scientific and medical research and the development of new child restraint technologies.” While specific car seat safety laws vary from state to state, the requirement to use one for an infant is a national safety necessity, with even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) releasing a statistical study strongly urging their usage. Car-seat awareness progress continues as a California county wins a government grant to provide seats to those who may otherwise be unable to afford them.

Contra Costa county, a primarily suburban area situated across the bay from San Francisco, was awarded $88,500 in a one-year Child Passenger Safety grant “to help prevent injuries and deaths through its Public Health Nursing program.” The grant comes from the NHTSA’s California Office in an effort to “educate families receiving home visits from public health nurses in Contra Costa about child passenger safety, and distribute child car seats to those in need of them.”

This grant comes a year after the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) received a $488,650 grant to “expand statewide programs that train parents how to keep their children safe when riding in motor vehicles.” The state passed a law beginning in January of 2017 requiring parents and caregivers to keep children in a rear-facing car seat until age two and to have children up to age eight ride in a booster seat.

While there are other resources to locate free and reduced-price car seats for families in need, this grant signifies a possible growing trend for local municipalities to take more direct action when it comes to car-seat safety and need.

As for Contra Costa, their program beneficiaries can expect nurses and community health workers, with a certified child passenger safety technician to provide education and install no-cost car seats as needed during home visits.

Marilyn Condit, a nurse program manager, said, "Our families struggle with meeting the basic needs of the children. Rent, food, clothing all become priorities over car seats, and many of our families use old, expired car seats. This program is a much-needed resource to help keep children safe.”

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