The following article was submitted by Portage County and their Babe-B-Safe program.

We have implemented a program in Portage County, Wisconsin that we named Babe-B-Safe. The Babe-B Safe program was formally launched in June 2016 as a direct response to safety concerns identified during postpartum home visits to underprivileged families. Families experiencing economic insecurity often are struggling to pay their bills and prioritize paying rent, transportation, and utility bills before purchasing safety products.

The goal of the Babe-B-Safe program is to prevent childhood injuries by providing babyproofing supplies and safety education to families before their baby begins reaching, crawling, and walking. Prior to initiation, Public Health Nurses from Portage County Health and Human Services Division of Public Health (PCHHS-DPH) working in the Prenatal Care Coordination Program (PNCC) collaborated with local agencies including Welcome Home Baby, a home visitation program through Ascension St. Michael’s Hospital and the safety educators at the Stevens Point Child Safety Center. With their enthusiastic agreement to join the effort, a grant was written to the Community Foundation of Central Wisconsin and funding was procured, first from the Franks Fund (a group of anonymous donors) and subsequently from Community Foundation of Central Wisconsin “helping others” grants.

A home assessment form was developed and a list of highly rated safety products was compiled. These products can be installed without screws since some landlords do not allow holes to be put into walls or cabinets. Also, many clients do not have drills. The safety supplies can prevent accidental burns, cuts, poisonings, falls, strangulation, TV tip overs, access to guns, and the opening doors to storage areas or to the outside. The products are purchased using the grant money and are housed at the Stevens Point Child Safety Center. The Babe-B-Safe Program is offered at no cost to clients.

If a client agrees to participate, home visiting nurses from the PNCC program or Welcome Home Baby program assess the client’s home for safety hazards and identify the home safety products needed for that particular family on the home assessment form. The Safety Center is called and an appointment is set up for the client. The client is given a safety supply voucher with their appointment time, their name and the name of the referring agency. The home visitor scans and emails the assessment form listing the needed safety products to the Stevens Point Child Safety Center, where they gather the needed products prior to the client’s appointment. When the client presents for the appointment, the Safety Center technicians demonstrate how the products are to be used.

The program has been warmly received and it has since been expanded. Social workers with Child Protective Services, Foster Families and early childhood educators with Early Head Start and Strong Start have been trained in performing the home assessments and can offer the program to their clients or refer them to a PNCC nurse. Other OB and pediatric providers in the area have been made aware of the program and can also refer clients to PNCC. The average cost of safety supplies provided to a family is $75. This is one-tenth of the average cost of an emergency room visit for a childhood injury (age 0-4), and it is one-two hundredth of the cost of an injury related hospitalization (age 0-4). (Statistics are from 2014 -Wisconsin Interactive Statistics on Health)

This is truly a collaborative effort and we are grateful to the generous funding from the Community Foundation of Central Wisconsin as well as the dedication of the agencies that administer the program.