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Federal funding cuts could affect Michigan's infant mortality rate, Cradle Kalamazoo

Cradle Kalamazoo's research shows Kalamazoo County has one of the worst infant mortality rates in Michigan. (WWMT/FILE)

Multiple programs that help Michigan counties take care of infant children have been cut by the federal government.

Funding for MIECHV, which stands for Maternal, Infant, Early Childhood Home Visiting, expired Sept. 30. Supporters are asking for the program to be refunded at its current level of $400 million annually for five years. That total supports the program nationally.

Since funding expired, organizations that are partners in the Cradle Kalamazoo Initiative have feared the impact on the Kalamazoo County. Cradle Kalamazoo is a multi-agency community initiative led by YWCA Kalamazoo with the goal of reducing infant death. According to the organization's research Kalamazoo County has one of the worst infant mortality rates in the state. And, the racial gap is large.

"We have an alarmingly high rate of infant mortality for African-American babies," said Tobi Hanna-Davies, who volunteers with Issac, a Cradle Kalamazoo partner. "It's very distressing. For black babies, it's four times as high."

One program that's helping is the Nurse Family Partnership, which was funded by MIECHV. The program links nurses directly to expecting mothers and families.

"Nurses do home visits in the homes of at-risk, young, first-time mothers," Hanna-Davies said. "Right in their homes, throughout the pregnancy and throughout the first two years of the babies life."

Now that MIECHV has expired, Rochelle Habeck, another representative for Issac, said the Nurse Family Partnership is in limbo. How it it will be funded and when cuts will happen is unknown. She said it's possible that the program will stop taking new applicants, or it might cut current families.

"We were really distressed, surprised, shocked that it wasn't reauthorized this year," Hanna-Davies said. "We've got to have that federal funding in order for us to be able to end our terrible infant mortality rate here in Kalamazoo."

Organizers of the programs encourage anyone who wants to help to contact their U.S. House and Senate members. U.S. Rep. Fred Upton has responded to Newschannel 3's questions on the program, saying that he continues to see these resources as important to the Kalamazoo community and he is working in a bipartisan manner to reauthorize the program.

In Kalamazoo, those congressional representatives are:


U.S. Rep. Fred Upton

  • Phone: 202-225-3761
  • Email: A messaging link can be found at https://upton.house.gov/contact/


U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow

  • Phone: 202-224-6221
  • Email: A messaging link can be found at https://www.stabenow.senate.gov/contact/


U.S. Sen. Gary Peters

  • Phone: 202-224-6221
  • Email: A messaging link can be found at https://www.peters.senate.gov/contact/email-gary


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