Expanding on its car seat program, the Grayson County Health Department is now looking to further improve child safety in vehicles by offering free booster seats for families in need.

Grayson County Health Department (GCHD) Community Health Educator Jenny Cummings said many families are unaware that Kentucky law requires all children under 8 years old and 57 inches in height to sit in a booster seat when in a vehicle. Additionally, children under 40 inches in height must sit in a car seat when riding in a vehicle.

Thanks to a $10,000 community health grant from the state, the GCHD is now able to purchase around 200 booster seats for local families through its new “Give Them a Boost” program, according to Cummings.

When school resumes in the fall, GCHD officials will coordinate with Grayson County’s preschool and head start programs for Give Them a Boost referrals, but families in need of one prior to that time may contact the health department at 270-259-3141.

Families who qualify for the program will be asked to make an appointment at the health department, during which they will be given a five-to-10-minute class on car seat safety prior to receiving their booster seat.

With funds made available to the GCHD on Thursday of this week, Cummings anticipates the booster seats will arrive at the health department in mid-July.

Cummings also noted that, just because a child is 8 years or older or above 57 inches in height does not mean he or she is ready to ride in a vehicle without a booster seat.

Cummings said many people try to progress through their child’s car seat development too quickly, and she encourages parents to employ the Safe Kids Worldwide seat belt fit test to determine whether their child is ready to ride in a vehicle without a booster seat.

According to safekids.org, to determine whether children are ready to ride without a booster seat, first check whether the children’s knees bend at the edge of the seat when their back and bottom are against the vehicle seat back. Their feet should touch the floor for comfort and stability.

Next, check the lap belt and determine whether it fits snugly across their hips or upper thighs.

Lastly, check the shoulder belt and determine whether it fits across the shoulder and chest. It should not fit across the face or neck.

For more information, contact the GCHD or visit safekids.org/tip/booster-seat-tips.

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