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VYFS Receives Grant To Welcome All Baby Islanders!

Vashon Youth & Family Services (VYFS) is  thrilled to announce that a new Baby Box program is set to roll out towards the end of the year.  This program, one component of a larger Home Visitation Program that will be developed in 2018, will seek to provide a baby box for each newborn or newly adopted infant on the Island. Granny’s Attic recently announced it will provide $6,484 toward the purchase of the boxes themselves, to help launch the program.

The baby boxes give new parents an easily transportable cardboard sleeping box with mattress to ensure that each baby always has a safe secure place to sleep. The boxes will include two parenting books, onesies, a sleep sack, washcloths, materials from local businesses and all types of necessities to welcome the newest Islanders.  “We’re still working out the details for referrals,” said Christine Wood, Family Place Manager, “but our goal is to have health care providers and doulas give out referrals to expectant families.”  More information will be posted on Place, the VYFS Facebook page and in local newspapers as the end of the year approaches.

The baby boxes are similar to those used by the Finnish government for decades to help reduce sudden infant death syndrome. The boxes were one component of a revamped national focus on maternal and infant health, which included encouraging expectant mothers to visit health care providers and the emergence of a national health insurance system.  These components together had a dramatic effect on infant mortality rates in Finland, which have decreased from 65 in 1,000 infants in 1935 to less than 5 in 1,000 by 2010.  

The VYFS baby boxes will be distributed by a bilingual Family Advocate through the Family Place. The Family Advocate will promote community awareness of the program, develop community partners to sustain it, and deliver baby boxes and valuable information and resources to new parents, with a focus on outreach to the Latino community. “The baby boxes are a key part of a new program of Home Visiting that we hope will get off the ground next year,” said Wood.

A key part of the Vashon baby boxes will be community welcome. Throughout the fall, VYFS will be soliciting community members to donate specific items that will then be put in the boxes, including baby books. “We’re very happy that the Vashon Bookshop has already agreed to help us by selling  two baby book titles that we need at a 20% discount,” said Wood. Community members can purchase The Baby Book by Dr. Sears or Raising a Secure Child by Cooper and Powell by going into the Bookshop. Just let them know you are donating the books to VYFS and Vashon Bookshop will keep your donated book to be collected for the program. “We’re hoping to organize other community supply drives as the box program grows,” said Wood.