NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Losing a young child can be one of the hardest things a family will ever experience. To combat any issues with young children, the state sends out pamphlets to new parents to ensure they're taking care of their children and are up to date on all of their tests.
At the Metro Public Health Department, they're facing the issue of infant mortality head-on.
"Nashville loses a kindergarten class of babies every single year, and in context, every five days, a family is watching their child take their last breath,” said D'Yuanna Allen-Robb, maternal child and adolescent health director for the Metro Public Health Department.
The agency started working with 30 families in 2016 by offering medical and counseling support with a limited budget. They tracked the families' progress, and today, all of the children part of the program are doing well.
"We care so much about every baby born in our city that there's nothing that we will not do to make sure that they have a healthy future and support all families,” Allen-Robb said.
The program is now expanding thanks to the federal government.
The Nashville Strong Babies Project, as it has been named, will receive more than $1 million a year from the federal government for the next 5 years to help provide 10 staffers that will meet with mothers and newborns in the 7 zip codes that have the highest infant mortality rate in Davidson County and provide health coaching, as well as provide group prenatal care and pediatric care.
"It is frankly true that your economic circumstances, the zip code you live in, the trauma informed life you may be living in, will have a direct impact on the vitality of children in those families,” Nashville mayor David Briley said.
The Nashville Strong Babies Project will serve 700 families each year for 5 years, hopefully keeping them from experiencing tragedy.
"The ultimate goal is to assure that every Nashville family has the opportunity to celebrate the first birthday of their newborns,” Dr. Wendy Long, Director of Health for Nashville, said.
Workers with the program will start meeting with families when the mother is pregnant, and continue until the child is 18 months old.
The zip codes that will be supported include 37115, 37207, 37208, 37210, 37216, 37218, and 37221.