Boynton Beach - More Palm Beach County babies were born too early and too small in 2015 than the previous year, a trend seen across the state.
Yet babies born to mothers who received services funded by Children’s Services Council, who are traditionally at higher risk for poor birth outcomes, had fewer premature babies than mothers in a comparison group.
This data underscores why Children’s Services Council proclaimed November as Prematurity Awareness Month at its board meeting Thursday.
Staff noted that about 1,470 Palm Beach County babies were born premature in 2015, an increase from 2014 across all demographics.
Meanwhile, 7.5 percent of babies born to mothers who received CSC-funded services were born low birthweight (less than 5 ½ pounds), and 13.6 percent were born preterm (less than 37 weeks gestation). In the comparison group, 9.4 percent of babies were born low birthweight and 15.5 percent were born preterm.
In its proclamation, Children’s Services Council recognized that babies born premature are at risk for life-long health complications that can affect their growth, development, social-emotional health and academic success. In addition, on average, the medical cost to care for a premature baby is about $54,000 – 12 times more than that of a healthy baby.
“Children’s Services Council and its funded programs have worked tirelessly to raise awareness about the importance of early and consistent medical care for pregnant women in our county,” Council CEO Lisa Williams-Taylor said. “All woman in Palm Beach County need to know that if they don’t have access to a doctor, we can help.”
Pregnant women in need of assistance may call 888.414.4642 to reach Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Coalition of Palm Beach County, a CSC-funded agency, to determine what services they may be eligible for.
In other business
Attendance Works: Children’s Services Council partnered with The Florida Campaign for Grade-Level Reading to host a special presentation in Palm Beach County by Hedy Chang, CEO of Attendance Works. This national and state initiative promotes awareness of the important role school attendance plays in achieving academic success. Attendance Works focuses on three areas:
- Build public awareness and political will
- Foster state campaigns
- Encourage local practice
More than 32 participants, from Miami to Indian River County, attended the September event.
National Black Child Development Institute: Children’s Services Council was honored to contribute to the recently released Being Black is not a Risk Factor: A Strength-based Look at the State of the Black Child report, published by the National Black Child Development Institute. CSC contributed to the Florida report, which highlighted the work of the BRIDGES.
Strategic Plan: Council CEO Lisa Williams-Taylor finalized the Council’s three-year strategic plan on Thursday, noting the organization will expand services to children and families by: exploring new mental health and child-development programs, initiating a new program for children with developmental concerns and fully implementing a number of other new services. Williams-Taylor noted that the cost of any programmatic additions already have been included in the 2016-2017 budget approved by the Council in September.
“Children’s Services Council continues to strive to meet the needs of our diverse and growing community,” Williams-Taylor said. “We believe that with these new initiatives, we’re headed in the right direction.”
Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County is an independent special district established by Palm Beach County voters in 1986 and reauthorized in 2014. The Council provides leadership, funding, services and research on behalf of the county’s children so they grow up healthy, safe and strong. To learn more, please visit www.cscpbc.org or contact Shana Cooper, public information officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 561-.740.7000 ext. 2170.