Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death and injury in the nation for children ages 14 and under. In Sacramento, they are the fourth leading cause of death. The mission of SAFE Kids is to reduce these statistics and prevent death and unintentional injury to children through outreach, education and collaboration. The distribution of free and low-cost cars seats and installation training, as well as car set checks that follow the SAFE Kids USA
proven intervention model are key components of the SAFE Kids program.
Mercy San Juan Medical Center
has been acting as the lead agency for SAFE Kids. The program falls within the hospital's Trauma Prevention Program and is made up of a coalition comprised of various public and private agencies. SAFE Kids is available to any family in need. Minorities - specifically Hispanic, Slavic and Hmong - and the underserved, however, are the target populations for this program. Based on a 2001 study, Mercy San Juan found that minorities and children in poverty face the greatest risk of car crash injury and death. Cultural beliefs and lack of education have kept non-English speaking parents from understanding the risks to children associated with riding in a car without a car seat. Sacramento has the largest Slavic population in the nation and the second largest Hmong population in the state. As a result of the study, culturally appropriate child passenger safety education programs have been developed and implemented for each ethnic group.
The SAFE Kids program, available in Hmong, Spanish and Russian, is now provided at Methodist Hospital of Sacramento
and Cosumnes Fire Stations, as well as Mercy San Juan.
SAFE Kids has made remarkable progress:
406 car seats have been provided to Hmong speaking families
1,351 car seats have been provided to Russian speaking families
595 car seats have been provided to Spanish speaking families
3,387 seats at low- or no-cost have been given to socio-economically disadvantaged children
8,222 car seat safety checks have been conducted along with education to parents and caregivers on how to properly install car seats
27 community car seat check events have been hosted in the community
Four technician trainings have been conducted and 53 technicians certified (19 are bilingual)
SAFE Kids is having a positive impact. Data from the Sacramento County Child Death review team reveals that Sacramento County now fares better than the rest of the nation. From 2002 to 2004, car crashes have moved from the first to the fourth leading cause of death for children ages 14 and under.
Mercy San Juan Medical Center also conducted an evaluation of the program in the Hmong and Spanish communities. The evaluation indicated that there has been a significant increase in parent knowledge and proper car seat usage in these communities.
SAFE Kids also provides pedestrian and drowning prevention education, two major causes of death among children in Sacramento County.