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Sacramento County Seeks To Lower Black Children Mortality Rates

Bob Moffitt / Capital Public Radio

Ladeitra Liggins and Kealah Reyes at the Oak Park Community Center.

Bob Moffitt / Capital Public Radio

After taking a year to prepare, Sacramento's "First 5" Commission and its partners say they are ready to help lower the mortality rate for black children.

Ladeitra Liggins says she bounced around from guardian to guardian growing up and didn't get good advice on raising kids from her parents.

She had her first child at 16. She's 23 now and recently had her third.

"For me to grow up and have my kids, I did not want to go about things the way my parents did. I had to find better and do better by my kids."

Liggins says her most recent pregnancy was different.

The Well Space Health program at Sacramento's Oak Park Community Center helped her eat right... and taught her parenting skills to help her raise her two older children.

That's the type of help the First 5 Sacramento Commission wants to provide with nearly $2 million available to seven partners.

The commission hopes the money will help this generation of black mothers raise healthier babies and reduce the number of children who are abused, die in their sleep or are victims of homicide.

Marie Young runs the Well Space program. She says breaking a cycle of unhealthy behavior begins at home.

"Because of the First 5 funding, we can offer a home-visitation program where we have a home visitor go out and work one-on-one with the mother and the family."

First 5 Sacramento made this a priority after a 20-year study showed the mortality rate for black children in the county is twice that of children of other races.

The commission is funded by tobacco taxes.