Baby University improving the lives local children & their famil - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Baby University improving the lives local children & their families

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

A local program is helping build stronger families in Chattanooga. It's called "Baby University" and is paid for through the city and BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee.

Two-year-old Sampson Martin is soaking up the last few weeks of summer before his older brother goes back to school. Sampson is still too young for the classroom, but a local program is helping to make sure he's ready when that day comes. 

Sampson is a little behind when it comes to communicating, but speech therapy is helping him catch up. Sampson's mom Patrice says this is just one way Baby U is helping her care for her children.

"Getting a car seat for my youngest son, Elijah, for bringing him home," say Patrice Martin, a mother of three.

The program helps families like the Martin's identify needs or barriers they may face on a daily basis. Specialists at Baby U, like Lasha Rockymore, make sure those needs are met by connecting families with resources. 

"Transportation can be a barrier to a formula WIC appointment; it can be a barrier to a doctors appointment; it can be a barrier to actually just going to get food for your monthly supply at home," Rockymore tells Channel 3.

Patrice and her three boys were one of the first of nearly 80 families to enroll in Baby U almost a year ago. 

Numbers show the program is working, by helping families find work and permanent homes.

But, perhaps the biggest improvement can be seen in the number of babies being born at a healthy birth weight. Of the 4,000 babies born in Hamilton County each year, 20% of them are not born at a healthy weight. 

Since the Baby U initiative started, all 28 children born into the program have been at a healthy weight, which helps to ensure proper brain development.

For Mayor Andy Berke, who is spearheading this initiative, the results are changing lives. 

"We can't fix every problem, but we can empower parents to do a better job at home," says Mayor Berke.

"It really can make a huge difference, and I've been surprised at how successful it's been," adds Rockymore.

The program is helping kids like Sampson and building a stronger city in the long run. 

All 79 families will graduate from Baby University this weekend.

Click here to learn more about Baby University. 

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