Putnam County Help Me Grow staff (from left) Marcie Osborn, Emily Lammers, Barb Duling and Stephanie Schroeder are shown with a Pack n Play. The Cribs for Kids program distributes free Pack n Plays to income-eligible families, along with information on safe sleeping habits. (Provided photo)



OTTAWA — Putnam County families who qualify for the Cribs for Kids program no longer have to make a trip to Lima.

Instead, the free Graco Pack ‘n Plays are now available at the Help Me Grow office in Ottawa.

“Some of our families did not have the transportation to do so, so we’re kind of taking away that roadblock,” said Barb Duling, home visitor/service coordinator for Putnam County Help Me Grow. “We were very excited to add this resource to our program.”

The Cribs for Kids program is provided through the Ohio Department of Health and the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, who partner with health departments throughout Ohio to provide a free, portable bassinet to eligible low-income parents.

“We knew this was a resource, and in Putnam County we didn’t have the Cribs for Kids program,” said Duling.

Previously, Help Me Grow would connect these families with Allen County Public Health in Lima, she said. After contacting the Lima agency a few times, staff in Ottawa were asked if they would be interested in serving as a crib distribution site.

Putnam County Help Me Grow is located at the Putnam County Educational Service Center, 124 Putnam Parkway, Ottawa. A voluntary family support program, Help Me Grow targets pregnant women and new parents who live in Putnam County.

“So it’s really ideal to have Cribs for Kids as part of our program,” said Duling.

Started in 1998, Cribs for Kids has distributed more than 325,000 safe sleep environments to families who otherwise couldn’t afford it. The organization has since begun using a smaller, more ergonomic safe sleep space, the Graco Pack ‘n Play, which is approved by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Duling said the whole point of the program is to make sure every child less than a year old has a safe sleeping environment.

“We have a big push in Ohio to reduce SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), making sure that families are educated,” she said.

Families that receive a free Pack ‘n Play also receive a fitted sheet for the bassinet and a Halo SleepSack wearable blanket that replaces loose blankets in the crib that can cover a baby’s face and interfere with breathing. They also receive information and brochures about safe sleep, she said.

“We talk with families about putting infants on their backs to sleep, and making sure they’re dressed appropriately, no extra blankets in the crib. So we are really pushing that safe sleep environment,” said Duling.

Anyone interested in finding out more about the program and eligibility requirements can call the office at 419-523-6059.

Help Me Grow also offers free screenings for children from birth through age 5 for vision, hearing, speech, physical development and behavior; home visiting to provide information on prenatal health, infant care and activities to help children reach developmental milestones; and early intervention and evaluation of any Putnam County child birth to age 3 for concerns relating to skills like talking, walking or behavior, and connections to services.

Wolf: 419-427-8419
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