The Department of Children and Families in Duval County stores the supplies, and Vicki Whitfield, a coordinator with the UF division of child protection and forensic pediatrics, coordinates all volunteers in the stuffing and delivery of bags to the hospitals and community partners involved.
Whitfield has led training sessions for each of the hospitals to educate staff on how to talk with families and hand out supplies. All nine birthing hospitals are regularly supplied with the bags and can request more based on need.
Whitfield says the motto is to “share a room, not a bed.” She urges all new parents to tend to their baby while they are alert and to avoid laying down with their baby while drowsy. Additional ways to avoid suffocation risk for infants include getting up and moving to a new chair while feeding, holding the baby while walking around the house and never placing babies on their stomachs.
Residents and businesses who are interested in volunteering to help stuff the supply bags may take part in various volunteer opportunities. Contact the division office by calling 904.633.0300 and leaving a message with your call back information.
“The majority of deaths we see related to unsafe sleeping environments are preventable, and we want the entire community to be informed and involved,” Alexander said.