Joyce Davis Is Determined To Keeping Babies Safe While Sleeping

Joyce Davis had a dream life. She had a great husband and family. Then one day, she put her 4 ½ month-old son Garret to sleep in a portable crib with a supplementary mattress that was advertised as being suitable for that brand of crib. Tragically, Garret suffocated when his head became wedged between the outer wall of the crib and the mattress. Turning adversity into an opportunity for advocacy and education, Joyce founded Keeping Babies Safe, a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering parents on safe sleeping procedures. Here is her story.

I’m so sorry for the loss of your son. What did you do after Garret passed away?

After my son Garret passed away, I learned about an organization called The Danny Foundation. The Danny Foundation was dedicated to crib safety, and I was put in touch with Jack Walsh, the Executive Director at the time. I followed closely what they were doing and kept up with Jack to see how I could fit in and be a part of this organization. My husband Rich actually went to Washington, D.C. with Jack to meet with Rich Torricelli and NJ Governor John Corzine to discuss federal crib legislation.

Shortly after this Jack called to tell us that The Danny Foundation was defunct as the Founders of the organization felt that they had done all they could for crib safety. The Board of the organization wanted to continue as the number of crib deaths was still escalating. Jack reached out to Rich and me and we were ready to start our own fight for crib safety, so in 2006 Keeping Babies Safe was launched.

What is your role in Keeping Babies Safe?

As President of Keeping Babies Safe, which is a national non-profit organization, I speak out about crib safety and the need for consumer safety regulations, so this tragedy need never be repeated. Jack Walsh serves as the Director Emeritus of Keeping Babies Safe.

When I lost my son, there weren’t any national laws overseeing crib and mattress safety. Now, we have the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 that will help enforce more stringent policies on manufacturers and recall unsafe cribs from the market. The important thing for parents to know is that regardless of these new laws, many unsafe cribs have never been recalled. Knowledge is the best defense against these unsafe cribs and sleeping conditions. That is what Keeping Babies Safe provides to parents and the public at large.

What have been some success stories that stemmed from Keeping Babies Safe?

Since the start of KBS, we have been able to educate many nurses and licensed administrators about crib safety in NJ, NY, West Virginia, California and Arizona and throughout the country. We created Project Safe Crib, which is a non-profit program designed to help economically challenged parents obtain safe cribs through human service organizations around the country. Project Safe Crib purchases safe cribs at an industry discount and offers them to Heath and Human Services organizations that have demonstrated a thorough training in safe crib practices. The cribs are brought into homes by these trained professionals and set up to the highest safety standards.

Through Project Safe Crib, we have been able to distribute over 700 cribs to those who are financial unable to provide a safe sleeping environment for their babies. We have also worked with Oakland Children’s Hospital in CA so that they have safe cribs for those infants in need.

What does your family think of your work with Keeping Babies Safe?

My entire family is involved in Keeping Babies Safe! Rich and I have three wonderful daughters; Eliza, Lauren, and Jamie. Due to his background in accounting and law, Rich is actively involved with Keeping Babies Safe and is a volunteer Financial Controller of the organization. Our children are actively involved with KBS as well. For Eliza and Lauren’s bat mitzvah projects, they held local fundraisers for KBS, incorporating a family fun day in memory of Garret. Garret is very much a part of our family and we cherish all of the 4 1/2 short months that we had together. We all realize how precious life is and we truly treasure our fun times!

What are your plans for the future of Keeping Babies Safe?

My goal is that no other family has to ever go through what we’ve had to endure. Garret’s death was totally preventable had there been adequate information available. I hope that we can eliminate crib death completely. Over the past 2 years, over 5 million cribs, play yards and bassinets have been recalled. These numbers are staggering! I know KBS is a terrific resource for new moms and moms-to-be to ensure that the products they are using are safe. The more we can generate awareness for this cause the more we can educate the public about safe sleeping.

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