Thousands of Michigan children will be safer after upcoming crib exchange

By Jennifer Walkling

Michigan’s youngest may not know it, but their small worlds just got safer.

As of late last month, cribs sold in the United States are required to meet stricter federal safety standards, and cribs used by child care providers must have the new cribs in place by December 2012.

But why wait?

On Aug. 27, at Great Start Regional Child Care Resource Centers around Michigan, licensed child care providers will be able to exchange their older, non-compliant cribs with new cribs and mattresses provided by the Early Childhood Investment Corp, said Karen Roback, director of the Great Start Child Care Quality Program.

“Those are the most vulnerable children,” Roback said. “The purpose of the funds is to improve the quality of care for the most vulnerable children. Safe cribs improve the quality of the early learning and care setting.

“ECIC has prioritized improving quality for the most vulnerable infants and toddlers across Michigan, and with the benefit of the ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) funds, will be able to support licensed providers including Early Head Start to exchange outdated cribs for new ones that meet the standards and requirements,” Roback said.

Crib exchanges get unsafe cribs out of circulation. The outdated beds will be disassembled and destroyed. Under federal law, it is illegal to attempt to sell or resell these cribs.

“The crib exchanges allow licensed and registered providers to be assured they are providing cribs that meet the new standards and provide the best care and protection to infants,” said James S. Sinnamon, Director of Child Licensing Division in the Bureau of Children and Adult Licensing in the State of Michigan Department of Human Services.

The exchanges serve a licensing requirement for all licensed and registered providers serving infants. It is mandated these providers replace all cribs.

"A safe crib is the safest place for a baby to sleep,” said Inez Tenenbaum, chairman of the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission. ”It is for this reason that I am so pleased that parents, grandparents and caregivers now can shop with confidence and purchase cribs that meet the most stringent crib standards in the world. From the start, our goal has been to prevent deaths and injuries to babies in cribs, and now the day has come where only stronger and safer cribs are available for consumers to purchase."

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has recalled more than 11 million dangerous cribs since 2007, according to a Commission press release. Drop-side cribs with detaching side rails were associated with at least 32 infant suffocation and strangulation deaths since 2000.

The Commission also noted in the release that additional deaths have occurred due to faulty or defective crib hardware, and that the new standards aim to prevent these tragedies and keep children safer in their cribs.

“School readiness begins at birth, and crib safety is an important factor in making sure all children arrive at the schoolhouse door healthy and ready to go,” said Judy Y. Samelson, CEO of ECIC.

ECIC is a public/private initiative building a high quality child care system for Michigan as part of its work to restructure the state’s investment in children from birth to five through state and local community efforts

The new cribs that will be distributed at the exchanges were purchased from the Kaplan Early Learning Company, Community Playthings, Discount School Supply, School Outfitters and Lowes, and meet the guidelines set by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission. The mattresses have been approved by the Department of Human Services.

ECIC is able to pay $200 for each crib with mattress and shipping is free. The organization is hoping to do a million dollar crib exchange.

Certificates of eligibility will be mailed directly to the eligible providers, who will be given directions on where and when the exchanges will take place. Members of the Great Start Collaboratives and Great Start Parent Coalitions will be on hand to make the exchange easier. In order to receive the new cribs, old cribs must be turned in and destroyed.

If funds allow, a second round of exchanges will take place in September.