Davisson: Celebrating decline in infant mortality, increase in adoption rate

Posted by: Wade Coggeshall  | Friday, October 16, 2020

At one time, Indiana had the seventh-highest infant mortality rate in the nation. Because of this, state leaders have worked to lower Indiana's infant mortality rate while also boosting the number of foster children finding permanent homes. There is great news on both fronts.

In 2019, the infant mortality rate fell to its lowest level in state recorded history. This is the third year of decline. Preliminary data from the Indiana State Department of Health shows the rate decreased from 6.8 per 1,000 births in 2018 to 6.5 in 2019. In Black infants, the mortality rate dropped from 13.0 in 2018 to 11.0 the next year. The overall rate is at its lowest level since the state began tracking it in 1900. Infant mortality is defined as the death of a baby before their first birthday.

I've joined my colleagues in making perinatal care one of our top priorities, enacting a law in 2019 that I supported creating an obstetrician-gynecologist navigator program to connect expectant mothers to prenatal care and provide referrals for wrap-around services and home-visit programs in Indiana's highest-risk counties. This not only helps mothers, but also their unborn and infant children.

Expectant women, new mothers and individuals from anywhere in the state can call the MOMS Helpline at 1-844-MCH-MOMS (1-844-624-6667) to find resources available in their communities. Additionally, AskLiv.com, also available as a mobile app, is a database of useful information for expectant women and new parents. Visit in.gov/isdh to find a complete list of available resources in Indiana.

Adoption has been another priority. I supported laws adding funding for the Indiana Department of Child Services, limiting social workers' caseloads, allowing young Hoosiers to receive foster care services through age 21 and establishing an adoption unit within DCS to help our most vulnerable children.

Because of those efforts, the U.S. Administration of Children and Families recently ranked Indiana the top state in the nation for number of children adopted from foster care. There were 2,489 children adopted from DCS in fiscal year 2019. As a result, the state was awarded more than $4.7 million in federal funding to enhance its child welfare system.

While these actions have made Indiana the top state for adoption, there are still more than a thousand children needing forever homes. Learn more about the adoption process at IndianaAdoptionProgram.org.

All life is precious, and addressing these concerns has helped more babies live to celebrate birthdays and foster youth to find loving homes. The success of these programs is benefitting countless families and the entire state.

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State Rep. Steve Davisson (R-Salem) represents House District 73, which includes
Washington County, and portions of Jackson, Lawrence, Orange, Clark and Harrison counties.

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