WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Representative Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) commended the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for its continuance of the Healthy Native Babies Project (HNBP), an adaptation of the Safe to Sleep campaign, which has provided critical culturally appropriate risk reduction information about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related causes of infant death to Native communities since 2003.
In August 2022, after consultation with the Seattle Indian Heath and the Urban Indian Health Institute, Rep. Grijalva, Sen. Warren and seven additional members of Congress urged HHS to permanently renew HNBP’s contract which was set to expire. On March 22, 2023, in a response letter, HHS agreed and recommitted to the program and to continue offering HNBP-related materials for free.
“We appreciate Secretary Becerra and the department’s commitment to continuing HNBP and to providing critical public health resources to address maternal and infant mortality for Native mothers and babies,” said Rep. Grijalva. “This program is an example of the immense impact even small federal investments can have, and we must not leave programs like this behind. We should continue to build on this program and ensure we expand investments to reach vulnerable communities, and especially Native Americans communities that have been historically underfunded and mistreated.”
“We need meaningful investments in programs like the Healthy Native Babies Project to address the maternal and infant health disparities that have long affected Native communities,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren. “Thanks to Secretary Becerra, this initiative will continue to provide Native communities with resources to promote quality safe sleep practices and reduce sleep-related infant death — the federal government must continue its work to fulfill the trust and treaty obligations it owes to Tribal Nations.”
As of 2022, the HNBP successfully disseminated more than 180,000 culturally attuned materials related to safe sleep practices, trained more than 580 health care professionals, conducted more than 60 outreach events, and awarded more than 120 stipends to Tribes and Native-led organizations – all with limited funding. Historically, the HNBP has received $217,000 through three-year agreements.
Statements of Support
“The Healthy Native Babies Project is critical to reducing the high rates of preventable infant deaths in our communities. By providing culturally-attuned safe sleep trainings and materials to our Native caregivers, we are helping to protect our next generation.” – Dr. Socia Love-Thurman (Cherokee/Delaware/Yuchi), Chief Health Officer, Seattle Indian Health Board
“Native babies are at the highest risk of Sudden Unexplained Infant Death among all demographics in the U.S. The Healthy Native Babies Project is an essential tool to reach our communities that are disproportionately impacted. We’re grateful for the support of Rep. Grijalva, Senator Warren, members of Congress, and federal agency staff, to continue this program. Working together, we can achieve better health outcomes for Native children.” – Abigail Echo-Hawk (Pawnee), Director, Urban Indian Health Institute
The initial letter can be found here and the response letter from HHS can be found here.