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SCAN is pleased to be partnering with Smart Beginnings Prince William County to offer valuable Workshops on Safe Sleep to the Greater Prince William community.  The first workshop will be offered on Tuesday, February 21st at 4 pm at the Hylton Education Center at Sentara Hospital.

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The FREE workshop is ideal for service providers, health care providers, parents, expecting parents, caregivers, childcare providers and anyone interested in helping spread awareness and information about safe sleep.

Tracy Leonard, SCAN’s Public Education Manager, will present the workshops using materials and information we have compiled through our Operation Safe Babies Program.  Those attending will:

  • Learn about the American Academy of Pediatrics New Safe Sleep Guidelines
  • Learn how to Reduce the Risk of SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Causes of Infant Death
  • Discuss barriers to safe sleep

If you’re interested in learning more about the trainings (or want to register), the following links will be helpful:

 
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Since launching our Operation Safe Babies program last year, we’ve provided safe, portable cribs to more than 325 parents across Northern Virginia. We’ve also answered hundreds of their questions about how to make sleep safe for their babies.

October is Safe Sleep Awareness Month, the perfect time to share some of the most common questions we receive and some of the best answers we’ve found in our work:

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Q: Why should I put my baby on her back to sleep? 

A: (From the NIH Safe to Sleep Campaign) Research shows that the back sleep position is the safest for babies. The back sleep position carries the lowest risk of SIDS. Research also shows that babies who sleep on their backs are less likely to get fevers, stuffy noses, and ear infections. The back sleep position makes it easier for babies to look around the room and to move their arms and legs.

Remember: Babies sleep safest on their backs, and every sleep time counts! 

EXTRA TOOL: Check out the NIH FAQs list for more great answers.

 

Q: I’ve heard co-sleeping can be good for my fussy baby. Is it safe?

A: (From Cribs for Kids) The act of bringing an infant into a sleep environment with adults, other children, or pets puts the baby in danger of suffocating, either by being smothered in bedding; by positional asphyxia, which occurs when a baby’s position prevents them person from breathing adequately; or by being accidentally rolled over by a sleeping companion (overlay).

EXTRA TOOL: An opinion piece in the LA Times this September was met with powerful responses from the medical community, including this letter from the President of the AAP reposted online by Cribs for Kids:

To the editor: The risks of sharing your bed with your infant are not “imaginary,” contrary to the opinion expressed by Robert LeVine and Sarah LeVine.

An adult bed poses very real risks of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), unintentional suffocation, strangulation or entrapment to an infant. Sleep-related infant deaths claim more babies between 1 month and 1 year of age than any other cause.

Multiple studies bear this out. That’s why the American Academy of Pediatrics advises against bed-sharing.

The safest place for an infant to sleep is in a separate crib or bassinet with a tight-fitting sheet and nothing else, preferably in the parents’ bedroom for up to a year.

Benard Dreyer, MD, Elk Grove Village, Ill.
The writer is president of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

 

Q: How can I make sure other caregivers are careful when putting my baby to sleep?

A: SCAN developed a “Pledge Card” in English and Spanish. We encourage parents to make copies for babysitters, family members and other caregivers to sign and hang up as a reminder for the children in their care.

EXTRA TOOL: Download SCAN’s white paper for professionals: Operation Safe Babies | Reducing Child Fatalities in Northern Virginia

 

Q: What does a “safe sleep” environment look like?

A: The National Institutes of Health has a great online visual tool that allows parents to see and interact with pictures of a bedroom as they learn how to create a safe sleep environment in their own home.

 

What questions have parents asked you about safe sleep? We’d love to help you answer more questions!

OperationSafeBabies_PledgeCardIt has only been 20 years since the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) began recommending U.S. babies always be placed on their backs for sleeping to reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).

Many have caught on to the NICHD’s “Back to Sleep” campaign, but there is so much more to safe sleep than simply putting a baby on their back.  We have to truly think about a safe sleep environment. As those who work closely with families, we must make sure every family member understands what a safe sleep environment is (and isn’t.)  This conversation is a critical part of providing support to parents of newborns who want what is best for their babies, but might not know the best way to advocate for safe sleep environments or how to have intergenerational conversations about what is best for baby today.

What does a safe sleep environment look like?

  • Baby is placed to sleep on their back
  • Baby is placed on a firm sleep surface, in a safety-approved crib that is covered by a fitted sheet
  • There are no toys, stuffed animals, bumpers, pillows or blankets in the sleep area
  • Nothing is covering baby’s head
  • A one-piece sleeper keeps baby warm, no blankets
  • Baby is sleeping in their own crib next to where a parent sleeps
  • Baby never sleeps on an adult bed, couch, chair, or other furniture
  • There is no smoking in the home or around the baby

Having this knowledge is empowering for parents of newborns, especially if they know it comes from a trusted resource like you.  It allows them to better articulate to all of those that care for their baby what a safe sleep environment looks like and that they will accept no less.

We’ve developed some great, downloadable resources for parents and service providers (like the Pledge Card above) through our Operation Safe Babies program. Please explore (and download) them here!

– Tracy Leonard, Public Education Manager
tleonard@scanva.org

 

hand-palm-babyParenting a new baby is not a perfect science, but we do know that parents who have positive support around them are better equipped to manage the stress, exhaustion and fear that often accompanies that first year with a new child.

Just in time for Mother’s Day, we’ve been gathering stories from our partners across the region working with moms and dads who have benefited from SCAN’s recently launched Operation Safe Babies Program:

One of the cribs went to a woman who had another baby pass away from SIDS at two months of age. When I met her she was on her own, supporting two children while on maternity leave from work. She thought having the baby sleep with her was a safer option, and shared that she needed to use what little money she had on food, not a crib. I spent time explaining safe sleep practices, showing her how to put the baby to sleep without blankets, and her baby now has a safe place to sleep beside her. – Service Provider, Fairfax County Health Department

We provided a crib and resources for a family in need—the father was out of work, and the mother was unable to work due to medical complications towards the end of her pregnancy. Their basic necessities were their priority and purchasing baby items was not an option. This family was overjoyed that we were able to provide a safe place for their newborn to sleep. – Service Provider, Arlington Department of Human Services

One of our playgroup moms, who had her fourth child in December, told us this was the first time she would have a (dedicated) place for her baby to sleep. She was so excited to receive the crib! – Service Provider, Center for Alexandria’s Children

We gave a crib to a woman who had left her husband because of domestic violence. She began her care at the Health Department with bruises and scars from past trauma. She was working 60 hours a week to save money for baby supplies, and lived in a converted sunroom of a very drafty house. I provided a crib for her when the baby came home from the hospital. The next week the mother fell ill with the flu, and when I visited, the baby slept soundly beside her in the crib. She was so thankful for a safe place to put her baby so she could rest and recuperate. – Service Provider, Fairfax County

p.s. Mother’s Day is this weekend, and many have asked us about making donations to SCAN in honor of someone they love. Today we suggest making a donation of $80, enough to provide a pack and play with bassinet as well as educational materials for new parents in economic need through our Operation Safe Babies Program.

 

 

 

One year ago this week, SCAN published its first white paper. In an effort to provide a deeper understanding of some of the complex issues we address in prevention and advocacy work, we continued to develop more in-depth tools for resource providers and child welfare advocates in our community. Since last fall, we’ve published two more papers. SCAN’s current list of White Papers includes:

  • Building Resiliency Using Children’s StoriesCover_Stories
  • An overview of resiliency in children, the importance of connections with adults and specific tools and techniques for using reading, stories and specific books to build resiliency in a variety of settings. A Call to Action at the end of the paper includes “6 Steps to Build Resiliency in the Children in Your Life.” Download the white paper here.

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  • The Power of Fathers in the Lives of Children
    Why are fathers important in a child’s physical, social and emotional development? Fathers are underserved in many parent-focused resources, but their involvement has a great impact on outcomes in children. A Call to Action at the end of the paper includes “10 Steps to Help Fathers Connect with Children.” Download the white paper here.

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  • Operation Safe Babies: Reducing Child Fatalities in Northern Virginia
    Inspired by SCAN’s new Operation Safe Babies initiative, we explore the impact of Severe Head Trauma (SHT) and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS/SUIDS) on child fatalities as well as the power of educating new parents in safe sleep, soothing techniques and seeking parent support. A Call to Action at the end of the paper includes “7 Steps to Keep Your Infant Safe During Their First Year of Life.” Download the white paper here.

We have plans to develop additional white papers in 2016. What topics would be helpful in your work with children and families?

WhitePaper_OperationSafeBabies-COVEREarlier this week, a group of local service providers gathered in SCAN’s Community Training Room to learn about Operation Safe Babies.  Although many come in to these events with some knowledge on safe sleep and abusive head trauma, there are always new issues discussed and important ideas shared. Everyone walks away with valuable information and resources to share as they work with the parents and caregivers in their communities.

As we continue to expand our circle of Operation Safe Babies partners this fall — including organizations like The Center for Alexandria’s Children, Arlington County DHS and Fairfax County Health Department — what better time to publish our NEW white paper: Operation Safe Babies: Reducing Child Fatalities in Northern Virginia? This is the third in a series of white papers SCAN has published for service providers this year, and focuses on SIDS & SUIDS, Abusive Head Trauma, and Education & Prevention, as well as 7 excellent “Calls to Action.” I hope you will take a moment to download and share this important resource.

Do you have questions about Operation Safe Babies? Please don’t hesitate to contact me to learn more about how we might be able to work together in your community to support parents and keep infants safe. As the white paper notes:

“It is important to make sure that new parents have a support network in place made up of family and friends that they can call on for support.”

We are ALL a part of those support networks. How will you take action to keep babies safe?

– Tracy Leonard, SCAN Public Education Manager
tleonard@scanva.org

A report recently published in Pediatrics and funded by the National Institutes of Health spotlights a troubling statistic: 20 percent of new moms said they did not receive advice from their doctors regarding current recommendations on issues like safe sleep and breastfeeding. This reflects a greater challenge we’ve noted in our community — new parents often feel isolated, in need of resources and hungry for connections that can make them more nurturing parents. Our new Operation Safe Babies initiative is one way SCAN is working to address the issue in Northern Virginia.

We’re sharing a portion of the original medicalxpress.com article here: 

Many new mothers do not receive advice from physicians on aspects of infant care such as sleep position, breastfeeding, immunization and pacifier use, according to a study funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Health care practitioner groups have issued recommendations and guidelines on all these aspects of , based on research which has found that certain practices can prevent disease and even save lives.

The study authors surveyed a nationally representative sample of more than 1,000 , inquiring about infant care advice they received from doctors, nurses, family members and the news media.

Roughly 20 percent of mothers said they did not receive advice from their doctors regarding current recommendations on breastfeeding or on placing infants to sleep on their backs—a practice long proven to reduce the risk of  (SIDS). More than 50 percent of mothers reported they received no advice on where their infants should sleep. Room-sharing with parents—but not bed-sharing—is the recommended practice for safe .

The study appeared in Pediatrics and was conducted by researchers at Boston Medical Center, Boston University, and Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.

“Earlier studies have shown that new mothers listen to their physicians,” said Marian Willinger, Ph.D.., of the Pregnancy and Perinatology Branch at NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), which funded the study. “This survey shows that physicians have an opportunity to provide new mothers with much-needed advice on how to improve infant health and even save infant lives…”

[Read the full article and more details about the original report here: http://medicalxpress.com/news/2015-07-mothers-physician-advice-infant-position.html]

OSB_blogimage_may2015We say it over and over: Parenting can be tough. From the first day a child comes home from the hospital, parents face decisions and schedules and subjects they most likely have never even thought about before. It’s a time when parents — especially those in high-risk families with few community connections — need all of the support they can get.

So do their babies.

That’s where Operation Safe Babies comes in. With support from CareFirst and through a partnership with Cribs for Kids, SCAN’s newest program will focus on educating parents about safe sleep for infants, providing cribs for families in need and delivering resources for families in Northern Virginia.

Child abuse prevention programs function at all points along the continuum of children’s lives, whether they’re infants or teens. But there is something compelling about programs that start at the very beginning. Operation Safe Babies will allow us to connect with parents at the start of their experience, being there to tell them “yes, this can be hard,” and “no, you’re not alone.”

This month our Public Education Manager Tracy Leonard met with teen parents at TC Williams High School and will gather over 20 service providers together at Inova Fairfax Hospital to pilot the training program. In the coming months, SCAN will provide 200 infants in our community with safe cribs. We’ll work with community partner organizations to provide parents of infants with specially developed educational materials and resources on Safe Sleep and Abusive Head Trauma.

We will start, again and again, at the beginning of hundreds of children’s lives. As prevention advocates, we can think of no better place to be.

— Sarah Self, Public Education Coordinator

If you are interested in hosting a training or learning more about the program, please contact Public Education Manager Tracy Leonard at 703-820-9001 or tleonard@scanva.org.

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SCAN works to build hope for children and families in Northern Virginia. This blog brings child welfare professionals the current trends and valuable resources that will support their work to prevent child abuse and strengthen families in Northern Virginia and beyond.

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