KidSafe, a program launched by Lutheran Social Services of North Florida in 2017, increases access to affordable child safety seats for young children from infancy through kindergarten. The KidSafe program is designed to ensure that all families, regardless of income level, are able to aquire a child safety seat. The price for high-quality safety seats often exceeds $100 and, because this is an expense families experiencing homelessness or economic hardship cannot afford, it often means borrowing, buying second-hand, or going without. Our priority at Lutheran Social Services of North Florida is the health and safety of children, and this extends to their transportation needs. When requests from local parents and social service providers for free or low-cost child safety seats reached us, it was a no-brainer for us to respond to this critical family need.
Our mission at Lutheran Social Services of North Florida includes adapting to the changing needs of our community, thus we were well positioned to shift the focus of our efforts to support families with young children in this way. Our KidSafe program has been very successful since its inception in April 2017 and has provided 40 convertible, American-made child safety seats for a nominal fee. To keep this cost from being prohibitive for families, we purchase the seats from a manufacturer at-cost and allocate our limited grant/donation funding to assume the non-subsidized portion of the expense. The fee is to ensure that the families take some personal responsibility for the providing this necessary transportion item. We are asking for monetary support from our friends in faith to sustain and increase access to this resource for local low to extremely low-income families.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC Injury Prevention & Control: Motor Vehicle Safety, 2016), motor vehicle injuries are a leading cause of death among children in the United States. The CDC also states that "Car seat use reduces the risk for death to infants (aged 1 year) by 71%; and to toddlers (aged 1–4 years) by 54% in passenger vehicles."
Local low-income individuals, who constitute more than 25% of the population in the Leon County metro area (Tallahassee Economy Project, 2017), may find the cost of purchasing this very necessary safety device for their child to be prohibitive. The KidSafe program is designed to ensure that all families, regardless of their income, race, economic status, etc. can have these essential car safety seats. These seats will serve a child from infancy through booster seat requirements without the need to purchase multiple seats as the child matures. With your help, we can expect to double or triple our order capacity in the next year so every child can ride safely and legally!
In six months’ time, the KidSafe program has provided access to child safety seats for 40 children, with the help of 6 referring human services agencies in our north Florida community. While we have been able to fulfill these orders, we have already seen that the local demand outweighs our supply and we expect the number of requests to increase in the upcoming year. WeRaise contributions will allow us to continue serving those who need this resource and increase the number of child safety seats available to families in 2018.
Tallahassee has many families with young children living below the poverty line. Leon County has the highest poverty rate of Florida counties with populations over 100,000 per the Census Bureau. We believe the KidSafe program has the potential to have far-reaching impacts that can extend outside our city limits, into the 7-county Big Bend region. Each stretch goal provides greater access to affordable child safety seats for families in Leon County and the surrounding area. If the first stretch goal is met, we will be able to purchase an additional 15 child safety seats and pay a portion of the insurance costs related to operating the KidSafe program during the 2018 calendar year.
If the second stretch goal is met, we will be able to purchase an additional 20 child safety seats.