ANDERSON, Ind. — Joanne Amick started connecting low-income families with car seats more than 20 years ago.

She was around for the start of the Safe Kids chapter in Madison County. Safe Kids is an organization that works toward reducing child injuries.

Amick said her passion for the job has not faded over the years.

“I’m kind of known for giving unsolicited advice,” she said. “It is gratifying to know a child is safer after an appointment with us.”

Each year, Safe Kids connects families with about 150 car seats in Madison County.

People can’t just pick up a car seat though. They have to make an appointment and receive a little education about car seats and child safety while traveling.

The appointments only take about a half-hour. Recipients fill out paperwork that is given to the state to maintain data for grants.

Afterward, Amick or Amanda Arnold will install the car seat in the vehicle appropriately. The recipient will then show the Safe Kids representative how to install the car seat themselves.

Amick or Arnold also inspect the car seat the child was using before the appointment. The parents or caregivers are asked about missing pieces or whether the seat has ever been in a car accident.

Some people show up at the appointments without a car seat at all, which allows some children to run all over the back seat while the caregiver is driving. Amick said it is particularly rewarding to correct that situation through car seat distribution and education.

“The child may not be happy because they are secured now, but we know the child is safer,” she said.

The most common age group Safe Kids distributes car seats for in Madison County is between the ages of 1 and 3.

Remington Tarlton, of Anderson, brought in her newborn Isaiah, who was born less than three weeks earlier. Tarlton had concerns about whether the car seat was fastened once clicked into the seat belt, and being able to talk to professionally trained staff assured her that the car seat was in safely.

“As new parents, it can be nerve-racking,” Tarlton said. “It’s nice to be able to come here so they can check it and say ‘It’s in there correctly. It’s safe.'”

Amick and Arnold work in the pediatrics unit at Community Hospital Anderson. However, the car seat distribution, which is done by appointment only, is done at Anderson Fire Department Station 4 on Cross Street, not far from the hospital on the city’s north side.

The relationship works out well because parents and caregivers can just pull their cars into the station, which makes weather not an issue for appointments.

Amick is actually training Arnold to take over the Safe Kids program in Madison County after more than two decades of service. Arnold, whose children are ages 1 and 6, said she had her firstborn strapped into the car seat incorrectly until Amick showed her the way to do it right.

Since then, she has been certified and is now passing on knowledge she finds to be very important for the community.

“I feel like there’s a lot of lack of knowledge on it,” Arnold said. “Now that I know more, I see it a lot.”

For people who are interested in participating in the Safe Kids program, call 765-298-5164. For more information about Safe Kids, visit safekids.org.

Common missteps

Joanne Amick of Safe Kids in Madison County has more than 20 years of experience making sure children are safe in car seats. She cited a few of the most common missteps she has seen.

. Car seat is too loose in the vehicle. There should be less than an inch of movement once the car seat is installed in the vehicle.

. Chest clip is too low. The chest clip should be placed about armpit-level on the child.

. Wearing thick winter coats. Children are safer without thick coats while riding in a car seat. Amick suggested placing a blanket over the child or putting the coat over the child backward once they are fastened in the seat.

For people who are interested in participating in the Safe Kids program, call 765-298-5164.

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DEVAN FILCHAK
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