Category

Community Support

Empowering Families with Essentials: HMHB’s Safe Sleep and Safe Car Seat Initiatives

By Caregiving, Community, Community Support, Parenting, Safety

Ensuring the safety and well-being of our little ones is paramount. However, for some families, accessing essential items like safe sleep spaces and car seats can be a challenge. That’s where Health Mothers Healthy Babies (HMHB) steps in with the Essentials program, providing pack-and-plays and car seats to families in need across Montana through our Safe Sleep for Baby and Safe Seat for Baby programs.

Foundation of Essentials

Image of a happy family with a baby in a car seat, showcasing the importance of safe travel for infants.From its inception, Essentials has been an integral part of HMHB’s mission to support mothers and babies aged zero to three. Recognizing the critical importance of safe sleep and secure travel for infants and toddlers, the program was designed to bridge the gap for families facing financial or logistical barriers.

Impact

A glance at the numbers reveals the program’s growth and impact. In 2024, less than half-way through the year, we are already on pace to surpass our crib and car seat distribution from 2023 and have a broad reach across Montana counties and Reservations. Since its inception, the program has distributed thousands of pack-and-plays and car seats to Montana families.

Year Counties Served Reservations Served Car Seats

 

Cribs
2024 (through May 1) 22 4 141 120
2023 28 6 244 209
Success Stories

The heart of Essentials lies in the stories of families it has helped. Through testimonials like April’s, who found solace in a pack-n-play for her newborn in a small trailer, or Martha’s, a homeless mother provided with a pack-and-play, this program makes tangible differences in people’s lives. From fleeing domestic violence to unexpected births, the Essentials offerings can be accessed during critical moments, offering safety and support.

Building Trust Through Partnerships

Image of a happy baby, safely in a pack n play.To ensure car seats and pack and plays are safely set up, providers (such as doctors, nurses, Health Departments, home visitors, etc.) must order Essentials items for the families they serve.  Thus, Essentials not only provides tangible products to families, but also fosters trust and relationships with direct service providers. By equipping partners with resources, HMHB empowers them to support parents comprehensively, from access to guidance on safe sleep practices, laying the foundation for future engagements.

Continuing the Mission

As HMHB continues to expand its reach and impact through Essentials, the commitment to ensuring every Montana family has access to safe sleep spaces and car seats remains unwavering. Through collaboration with partner organizations and the dedication of its team, Essentials continues to be a beacon of hope for families in need.  If you would like to help further the reach of this important program, please consider making a donation.

Donate Now to Provide Essentials to Montana Babies

HMHB in April Issue of Health Affairs

By Community Support, Maternal Mental Health, Native American Initiatives, Native Cultural Connections, Parenting

Behind the Scenes: A Strategy to Support Perinatal Mental Health By Collaborating With Tribal Communities in Montana (A note from our Executive Director, Stephanie Morton)

Hello HMHB Supporters,

I am elated to share that staff at HMHB authored an article that will be featured in Health Affairs, April issue on Perinatal Mental Health and Wellbeing.  You can link directly to the article and full April Issue (both are open access).

Led by Dr. Amy Stiffarm, PhD, MPH, Director of Native American Initiatives at HMHB, HMHB staff including myself, Dawn Gunderson, CLC, Program and Communications Coordinator and former Executive Director, Brie MacLaurin, collaborated with Nicole Redvers, Maridee Shogren, Terri Wright and Andrew Williams, to produce the article titled, “A Strategy to Support Perinatal Mental Health by Collaborating With Tribal Communities in Montana.” The article highlights work completed to include family-supporting resources on Reservations in Montana into the LIFTS Online Resource Guide (hmhb-lifts.org). This project was completed in partnership with HMHB and Dr. Stiffarm while she was a graduate student at the University of North Dakota in the Indigenous Health Program. Funding from the Montana Obstetrics and Maternal Support (MOMS) Program made it possible for the HMHB Team to fittingly engage Tribal communities in the process of mapping local resource relevant to pregnant and parenting families to be listed in the LIFTS Resource Guide.

The HMHB team is so appreciative of the funding, partnership and support that has allowed us to engage in this important work. Many of you have been key partners in this work and for that we are deeply grateful. Additionally, we are so thankful for the community members who shared their time and knowledge to improve the system of care for families in Indian Country in Montana. Please join me in congratulating Dr. Stiffarm and the team on this success. We are so proud to work with you all to continue to improve the health and wellbeing of Montana moms, babies and families.

Sincerely,

Stephanie Morton
Executive Director

 

Find Native Cultural Connections and other support in your community on the LIFTS Online Resource Guide at https://hmhb-lifts.org/.

Learn more about Dr. Amy Stiffarm’s work and our Native American Initiatives Program