Middletown’s Families First expand efforts to fight infant mortality

Six Butler County projects aimed at reducing infant mortality received more than $2 million from the Ohio Department of Medicaid last June. A Middletown non-profit agency called Families First was the recipient of some of that funding. Now the organization is looking to expand services to help as many women as possible in the community.

The initiatives, which range from smoking cessation to centering pregnancy programs, will deal with high risk African-American women who are pregnant, since black babies are dying at twice the rate of white babies before the age of 1 in the county, according to data from the Ohio Department of Health.

Families First is part of the designated faith-based organizations in Butler County that will share $182,000 to provide education classes and support for women that are already mothers and pregnant to increase good health focusing on obesity, nutrition, physical activity, and parenting.

“We actually just started the program in November and we have eight clients,” Ruth Kelly, the organization’s director and administrator, said. “We are working to save babies in our community here in Middletown. Our goal is to see babies live and survive through their first-year-of-birth. This has been a big issue in the community and most people in our community don’t understand that are babies don’t live past their first year so we want to save them.”

Kelly said she wants to extend the parenting, education, stress reduction and healthy eating courses that Families First will offer to mothers of all races, and if men show up — that will be fine too.

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“We don’t want to turn anybody away,” she explained. “We want to help all of the agencies and churches work together so we can build up this community. We don’t want separate agendas, we want everybody working together.”

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