Mugo Odigwe reporting


SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Keeping the momentum going, the rate of child deaths in the African American community has reduced. On Tuesday, the Sacramento County Child Death Review Team went before the County Board of Supervisors to present its report.

“It was a stress reliever to know that someone was there to have my back,” said Tamara Walton, a former program participant.

She said bringing her now 18-month-old son into the world was much easier than her first pregnancy because this time around she had an advocate in a program called Black Mothers United.

“She came and picked me up when I needed a ride. Took me to my doctor’s appointment, waited for me to get out of my doctor’s appointment and took me home,” she said, adding that the help was vital especially as a black mother.

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“I feel like we’re overlooked a lot,” Walton said.

Organizations including First 5 Sacramento and the Black Child Legacy Campaign are working together to put an end to a disturbing statistic.

“African American children in this county die at twice the rate of all other races and that’s just unacceptable to our community,” said Julie Gallelo, executive director of First 5 Sacramento.

Gallelo said there are various reasons behind the deaths including stress, not having access to resources, and “growing up black and the institutional racism that black people feel in our county, in our state, and in our country.”

The result of three years of work and at least five years of planning was presented to the county board of supervisors.

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“As African American women, we don’t receive the right access to care or culturally competent care that leads to the right birth outcomes for us and our families,” said Kindra Montgomery-Block of The Center at Sierra Health Foundation.

Advocates like Montgomery-Block targeted seven Sacramento county communities including Del Paso Heights, Foothill Farms and Oak Park.

Looking at the most recent available data from 2016, infant sleep-related deaths, child abuse, and neglect deaths as well as third-party homicides, are three of the four leading cause of death for African American children from 2014 baseline data all decreased.

Results from the program have encouraged Tamara to join the program as an advocate for other mothers.

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