Budget cuts forcing Jackson County to get rid of car seat program

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JACKSON COUNTY, MI (WILX) -- A program that helps families who can't afford car seats is on the chopping block as budget cuts are forcing Jackson County to get rid of the program--leaving local families in a tough spot.

Budget cuts forcing Jackson County to get rid of car seat program (Source: WILX).

Hundreds of families each year get help from the car seat program and with the last day of the program happening in four days, both public and organizations that depend on the program don't know what they are going to do without it.

"When we first heard about it, we were like what are we going to do for families because we have accessed that program so much for families," Shelley Hewver, of Community Action Agency said.

Those families rely on car seats from the program--seats they're legally required to have and can't afford.

"Car seats are costly especially when you look at a family maybe having more than one child so those costs add up real fast," Hewver said.

The Jackson County car seat program not only provides seats to low-income families, it teaches them how to properly install them and strap their kids in.

"We spend about 45 minutes to an hour with them. We even go out to their car to make sure the seat is put in correctly," Kellie Underwood, director of car seat program, said.

But the county board of commissioners recently voted 5 to 4 to end the program as part of some major budget cuts, ironically, the decision was made during child passenger safety week.

"The board of commissioners chose to reduce programs across the board and with that, we asked the health department with over an 8 million dollar budget to reduce $400,000 from their budget and one of the programs they chose do to was the car seat program," Steve Shotwell, member of the board of commissioners, said.

A health officer for the Jackson County Health Department said this is one of the biggest budget cuts they have seen and is resulting the elimination in the $60,000 program.

"We took them to heart and made the best possible one, the money was one factor but also how many have we served to date and how many can we continue to do," Rashmi Travis, health officer said.

The health department is now asking Henry Ford allegiance health and law enforcement for help to find a new way to provide car seats.

"We are willing to partner and continue to offer some level of a location that people know of and can come to," Travis said.

For car seat concerns, you can contact:
- UM CS Mott Buckle Up Hotline: 734-763-2251
- Safekids.org.
- ultimatecarseatguide.org.
- Car Seats in South Central Michigan Facebook page.

Parents can also call 211 for help with everything from car seats to baby formula, diapers and cribs.

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