Oklahoma Partnership Sets Sights on Ensuring Safe Sleep Practices

October 10, 2014|10:15 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Sometimes, a great partnership opportunity is sitting right there next to you, all you have to do is figure out how to make it work.

Always seeking an edge in its efforts to lower infant mortality, the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OK DOH) found a willing partner in another state agency, the Oklahoma State Department of Human Services (OK DHS). The OK DHS Office of Community and Faith Engagement and Child Welfare Services is using its connections to get the safe sleep education materials from OK DOH's Preparing for a Lifetime, It's Everyone's Responsibility initiative in front of target audiences.

Oklahoma's infant mortality rate has improved, dropping from 8.6 per 1,000 live births in 2007 to 6.8 in 2013. However, in some demographics, the trend does not hold. In 2012, Oklahoma's infant mortality rate for African American infants was 14.0 per 1,000, climbing to 16.5 in 2013. Overall in the state, African American infants are twice as likely as white infants to suffer sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), American Indian infants three times as likely. The OK DOH has worked with hospitals and providers in African American and American Indian communities, but the OK DHS gives the initiative's message a deeper reach into the community. In addition, the OK DHS will be ordering and distributing cribs and portable cribs to families that are in need of a safe sleep space for their infant.

Preparing for a Lifetime Safe Sleep slide image
Source: Oklahoma State Department of Health

"We are very excited to combine our efforts with those of the department of health in linking the children and families we serve with resources to educate, support and promote safe sleep environments," Karen Jacobs, administrator, DHS Office of Community and Faith Engagement said in a press release. "We want to part of the solution in helping to save babies' lives in Oklahoma."

See more ideas for safe sleep activities from state health agencies on ASTHO's Safe Sleep Resources webpage, including the Safe Sleep Roundtable Report, which summarized the discussion earlier this year between state, federal, and national organization leaders in safe sleep initiatives.