Installing a child car seat is no easy task. Research shows most seats are installed incorrectly and many children are improperly restrained. On top of that, selecting the right car seat, and knowing when to transition to the next type, is often confusing for parents. The First 5 Centers are working to ease this confusion and ensure safe travel for young children.
The five Centers began offering free car seat inspections three years ago through a small grant from the California Department of Public Health. These were short, one-day events in which families had their car seats inspected, and in some cases, received brand new car seats if their current one had been recalled or was deemed unusable.
While these events were well attended and successful, Center staff were looking for ongoing support for their families. This support was found in a new partnership with John Muir Health and Contra Costa Health Services Community Wellness & Prevention Program, who continued to provide small grants and technical support to the Centers.
Eventually, First 5 Contra Costa paid for six Center staff to attend a 4-day training to become certified car seat technicians. Now, when new families register for classes for the first time at one of the Centers, part of their intake involves questions about car seats.
Appointments can then be made with the Center’s car seat tech who will conduct a car seat inspection, instruct parents on proper installation and safety, and make recommendations to address a family’s individual needs. In some cases, car seats are made available to families free of charge. Typically these seats are given to parents in need who cannot afford new car seats. Since the program started in 2012, more than 700 participants have had their car seats checked and 600 new car seats have been distributed.
Only families enrolled in First 5 Center programs are eligible for the program. Contact a Center for more information.