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Partnering for a Healthy Start – Making a healthier Community

The future of Oklahoma is dependent upon the children in our communities having a safe and healthy start, but for many of our youngest citizens, the first year of life is incredibly treacherous. According to the Centers for Disease Control “the State had the fourth highest infant mortality rate in the country from 2012 to 2014.”

There are two key actions that can impact this rate - maternal health behaviors and providing safe sleep options for youth.

That is why Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma (BCBSOK) partnered with Infant Crisis Services (ICS) to provide parents with the information and equipment they need to ensure the safest sleep environments for their babies and toddlers. Through a grant to make Pack-N-Plays available to families in need, dozens of young children in central Oklahoma have been given the opportunity to sleep safely.

“The story of the grandmother who asked for a Pack-N-Play so that her newborn granddaughter wouldn’t have to sleep in a dresser drawer really drove home the fact that not all families can afford a safe sleep environment for their youngest loved ones,” said Miki Farris, Executive Director of ICS.

Farris continued “The grants we have received from BCBSOK have allowed us to provide more than 125 children with safe sleep options, which will have a direct impact on infant mortality rates in our state.”

This is just one of the many partnerships that BCBSOK has had with ICS over the years. The Oklahoma Caring Vans often partner with ICS’ BabyMobile to provide a full range of services to families in mobile clinics, overcoming transportation barriers to accessing services. And BCBSOK has provided grant dollars for specialty formulas for infants who have special dietary needs to ensure healthy development.

BCBSOK employees have also dedicated volunteer hours to Infant Crisis Services, helping prepare materials for the on-site resource centers for families, packaging diapers, assembling bottles and conducting donation drives for products for ICS. And BCBSOK also has representation on the ICS Board, providing valuable experience and insight for the organization.

Rich partnerships, like the one between BCBSOK and ICS, continue to offer on-the ground impacts to improve health outcomes for Oklahoma.