LAFAYETTE – The Acadiana Family Tree hosted its annual healthy start community baby shower Tuesday.
Louisiana annually ranks near the bottom of the country in terms of infant and maternal mortality. In the six Acadiana parishes that the Healthy Start program is offered in, Family Tree is taking steps to better those numbers.
“We’re actually last in infant mortality, “Says Marie Collins, Executive Director for Acadiana Family Tree, “But we’re 49, we’ve crept up there, with maternal mortality. So we’re not doing well. This is an initiative to try and improve that.”
The Healthy Start community baby shower is a way to honor those families in the program, families that come from all different types of backgrounds.
The Acadiana family tree hosting its annual healthy start community baby shower today.
Officials say it’s because every mom needs a little help during and after a pregnancy.
“It doesn’t matter what your socioeconomic status is,” explains Jerri Byrd Hodges, the program specialist for healthy start, “So even some of our moms, that one might consider well-to-do, still might not be able to install a car seat.”
Healthy Start provides physical and mental support during one’s pregnancy as well as the first 18 months of a child’s life. Sometimes it’s providing diapers. Other times it’s recommending quality healthcare providers.
Often times, Healthy Start simply gives mothers a caring person to talk to.
“They just have all kinds of programs around Louisiana to help pregnant women, single moms, moms that just need help. You just have to talk to the right people. And I used to talk to the right people,” a laughing Lisa Babineaux says, who was a participant in the program for two years.
“It’s truly bringing the community together to support these families to get their baby off to the best start in life,” adds Hodges.
And don’t worry dads, Marie Collins says the family tree also has a fatherhood initiative program that is expected to expand later this year.
For more information on family services such as the Healthy Start program, visit www.acadianafamilytree.org.