Safe Sleep Project hopes to help area families

Rachel Williams
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     The Jones County Family Council works in collaboration with the Community Partnerships for Protecting Children (CPPC). Rachel Williams is the coordinator of the CPPC in Jones County.

     Recently Williams spoke about a new initiative the Family Council is taking on: the Safe Sleep Project.

     This project has been gaining momentum just within the last few months.

     Shortly after Williams started with the CPPC in the summer of 2016, she said they received an emergency request from a family needing a crib for their newborn baby.

     “The family had no resources,” she said.

     This incident generated the conversation about whether Jones County needed to start a project that could assist families in cases like this.

     “We talked about how often cases like this actual happen,” shared Williams. She said emergency requests could become pretty frequent. In some cases, a family with very little money has to make a choice between buying a crib and putting food on the table.

     “Not everyone can have a baby shower,” explained Williams. “Buying bottle and formula quickly adds up.”

     The CPPC limits its emergency giving to $125 a year per family. But when a family is in need of a crib, for instance, that $125 doesn’t go far. For this particular request, Williams said the CPPC ended up providing a crib to that family, as well as sheets.

     “We wanted to figure out a way to get the funding to provide safe sleep items for families,” she said.

     Williams said the Safe Sleep Project stems simply from a need in Jones County. She said it’s not just about providing a safe sleeping environment for infants, but educating the parents and caregivers as well.

     “It’s not clear what some of the best practices are,” Williams said in terms of positioning a baby in the crib for example. “There are different recommendations going back and forth. If we don’t know what they are, what are families doing?”

     In order to assist families and childcare professionals in better understanding the latest safe sleep practices, the Family Council is inviting Dr. Regina Butteris, M.D. to speak in Anamosa. The event is Jan. 12 at 12:30 p.m. in the Anamosa library. Dr. Butteris works with the Child Protection Center in Cedar Rapids, which is through UnityPoint Health.

     “This will be our kickoff for the application process for the Safe Sleep Project,” said Williams.

     The Family Council applied for and received a $1,500 grant from Theisen’s to help with the project. Williams said they plan to provide families who apply with safe sleep items such as a pack and play, s sleep sack, a fitted sheet, a set of pacifiers, and a bedtime book.

     She explained a sleep sack is preferred over covering the baby with a blanket in the crib. Pack and plays are easier to transport to a care provider, for instance, versus a crib.

     “And they’re significantly less expensive than a crib.”

     And she said research shows that pacifiers can potentially reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Reading to any child before they go to bed, Williams explained, encourages a healthy bedtime routine.

     Linn County also as a similar Safe Sleep Project underway; Williams said Jones County is simply continuing those same guidelines and training here.

     Williams said it’s unfortunate that there is a need in Jones County for services like this, but the Family Council just hopes to educate professionals and families.

     “We just want to spread the message as to what we do,” she said. “This is a great resource to provide.”

     In order to qualify for the Safe Sleep Program, primary caregivers or expecting parents must meet the income guidelines of being on Medicaid and at or below 300 percent of the federal poverty level. Williams said they also require those families to meet with a representative of the Family Council to discuss safe sleep practices, a mini training session.

     To find out more about the Safe Sleep Project, how to help, or about the Jan. 12 event, contact Williams at 319-325-5160 or


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