In wake of reporting, Arizona boosts funding for child car seat safety

Published on
April 25, 2016

The Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety announced in February that it would boost funding by more than $407,000 for programs to address child car seat safety in that state, and would provide more than 2,460 additional car seats to needy families.

The additional funds came partly in response to my August 2015 series in The Arizona Republic that showed that Latino and Native American children were being disproportionately killed and injured in vehicle accidents across Arizona, largely because their parents were less like to have child car seats or to use them properly.

The series was produced with support from the Dennis A. Hunt Fund for Health Journalism and as a project for the 2015 National Health Journalism Fellowship program. 

As part of the fellowship project, I also enrolled more than 15 local organizations in creating an community coalition called Seat Them Safely/Sientelos Seguros. The group has mounted an ongoing campaign of car-seat giveaways and parent-training events in English and Spanish at sites throughout Phoenix and neighboring communities. In some locations, the events have included blessing-of-the-seat ceremonies led by Catholic priests. (I described the project’s community engagement effort here.)

“I’ve never seen this before, a community coming together so strongly to support a niche of the population. It’s quite remarkable,” said Zoraida Ettrick, coordinator of Safe Kids Maricopa, one of the member organizations in the coalition.


Read Bob Ortega’s fellowship series on child car seat safety here.

Read his essay on how he reported the series and successfully coordinated an ambitious community engagement campaign here.

[Photo by Raelene Gutierrez via Flickr.]