Cradle Cincinnati Helps Reduce Local Infant Deaths

Hamilton County’s infant mortality rate fell to a record low in 2020 thanks to the efforts of this local health organization.

Illustration by Valéry Goulet

After a year packed with grim health news, some much-needed positivity came out of Cradle Cincinnati’s annual report last spring: Hamilton County’s infant mortality rate fell to a record low in 2020 (7.4 infant deaths per 1,000 live births). While the record low is tremendous news, the work continues.

Media and Communications Strategist Danyelle Bush says locally, a leading cause of infant death is co-sleeping. To address sleep-related deaths, which rose sharply in 2020, Cradle Cincinnati rolled out its Safe Sleep campaign in partnership with Hamilton County’s Department of Jobs and Family Services. Their reminders to put babies to sleep on their backs in empty cribs also caught the attention of state leaders. Now, that messaging on billboards and on the sides of buses has expanded throughout Ohio.

Cradle Cincinnati also provides support for new mothers, including one of the organization’s longest-running campaigns, Black Women for the Win.

“Black Women for the Win was a campaign to uplift Black women and just let the community know that we are still winning,” she says. “Even though the numbers aren’t at zero, we’re moving in the right direction.”

Bush says the pandemic taught Cradle Cincinnati organizers crucial lessons. “Sometimes we assume that people need different things until we connect with them and meet them where they are,” she says.

In 2022, the organization plans to reach more Black fathers through its upcoming Kingstand initiative, as well as offer more programming based on community feedback, which Bush says is a key part of Cradle Cincinnati’s success.

“We just don’t make assumptions,” Bush says. “We make it about the community that we serve so that they can decide what’s going to happen for the community that they live in.”

Queens Village

Queens Village has been a place where Black mothers can find resources and a stronger sense of community through sacred spaces exclusively for Black women to rest, relax, and repower. Nearly 1,500 Black women have participated in Queens Village programming since 2018, and its virtual platforms reached 100,000 repeat visitors last year, nearly 70 percent of whom were women of childbearing age.

Queens Village also provides economic pathways to success. Bush says 70 percent of Cradle Cincinnati’s programming budget is invested in Black-owned businesses, specifically Black women-owned businesses, which have received more than half a million dollars from Cradle Cincinnati over the past three years.

“That creates a pathway for other people to tap in and other people to give them business,” she says. “It gives them a platform to be seen.”

Perhaps most beneficial to the community is the training Queens Village offers for doulas, the “unsung heroes” of the birthing experience, as well as community health workers.

“Being able to equip people with that training for free helps out the community and also helps out the Black women who are doing that training,” says Bush.

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