Safe Sleep Sabbath
Barrett launches effort to save infant lives
MILWAUKEE – Mayor Tom Barrett launched a new effort Sunday aimed at keeping babies alive.
Barrett visited three Milwaukee churches for what he called a ‘Safe Sleep Sabbath’ to draw attention to high infant mortality rates in the city.
With Health Commissioner Bevan Baker, Barrett started the day with an address at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church. They believe visiting churches is an effective way to reach parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents with direct or indirect responsibility for infants.
The mayor, who has four children of his own, told TODAY’S TMJ4 reporter Tom Murray that the number of infants dying in the city has reached “crisis” level.
"Particularly, in the African American community and the Hispanic community,” Barrett said. “We're seeing infant mortality rates that, in some zip codes, are higher than we see in third world countries."
Barrett and Baker point to poverty as the root cause of malnourished babies and adults who do not understand the responsibility of parenthood.
"We look at every individual death of children in this community and it's sobering to look at the statistics,” Baker said.
Parent Naomi Cain was in the congregation. She is the single parent of two girls, including an infant.
"It makes you want to cry,” Cain said. "I make sure that my focus is on both of my kids at the same time. I have to know where they are, what they're doing."
To promote safe sleeping, free Pack ‘n Plays are available through the health department’s Cribs for Kids program.