State should boost funds to save babies

Among new Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s top priorities is ensuring more children live past infancy. Too many in the Buckeye State don’t make it.

On average each year, six non-Hispanic white children out of every 1,000 live births in Ohio die before their first birthdays. That is the ninth-worst rate in the nation. Among Hispanics, the rate is slightly higher, at 7.1.

But among non-Hispanic black children, the infant mortality rate is shockingly higher, at 13.7 per 1,000 live births.

State government now spends about $28.2 million a year, including federal funds, to send nurses and social workers to homes where, because of various factors, infants and young children may be at risk. It is an expensive initiative; only about 4,000 families are helped each year.

DeWine wants to expand that to at least 12,000 families. That may triple the cost of the program.

But the governor is right: “It’s absolutely unbelievable. … It’s not acceptable, it’s tragic,” he said of infant mortality in Ohio.

An advisory committee has been formed by DeWine to look into the tragedy and what can be done about it. State legislators, always concerned about money, should provide more. Surely they can do that to save the lives of more babies.

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