FRANKLIN, Tenn. (WTVF) — The Williamson County Health Department Child Passenger Safety Program looks for families who need proper car seats for their kids as a fresh grant allows them to give away 100+ car seats in 2022.
"It's the safety of our children in the community. Being able to provide a safe ride for them and get them the seat that they need is the most important thing. And as long as we are protecting our our youngest ones in the community, that's our job at the health department," stated Williamson County Health Department Child Passenger Safety Technician Crystal Nall.
Since its inception in 2017, the Williamson County Health Department Child Safety Program (CPSP) issued 242 free car seats.
"COVID did significantly decrease the number of seats issued through the program over the last two years. Now that things have calmed down, my hope is that our numbers rise again as they were before the pandemic," explained Nall.
A Williamson County mother of three said the program was a "big relief" for her family as her 3-year-old son had been without a car seat for two to three months.
"Financially, you know, we're not able to buy a $200 car seat," explained Maura Ramirez.
After applying through the CPSP, Ramirez met with Nall for some basic training on the car seat and drove of with her son properly buckled.
"Sometimes it goes from boom, ‘I need it now.’ You have babies that grow really quickly and outgrow that infant carrier, because it only goes up to 25 pounds, most of them. So then they're in need of that next stage. Parents don't know, ‘What do I get? What's the best for my child.’ And it's picking the best seat that is age and size appropriate for your child. And luckily we're able to help them do that," explained Nall.
"According to the CDC, it is the number one cause of injury and death for children in the United States. It can be greatly decreased just by buckling your kid up, having the right car seat, booster seat and having them safely in their seatbelt. And it can decrease as much as 80%," explained Nall.
The program requires families to be at or below the federal poverty guideline income in order to receive a seat.
"Especially to moms that are scared to ask for help, just pick up the phone or go online and fill out the application," encouraged Ramirez. "They're really nice people, they're caring, and they pick out the car seats by themselves. And, you know, it's just a really great program and it helps you out a lot."
To apply for a car seat as a Williamson County resident, fill out this application.
In regard to other counties, Nall said they are hopeful others will train employees to become Child Passenger Safety Technicians. The Tennessee Department of Health encourages those in need of car seats in other counties to reach out to their local fire department and/or police station.