Antonio Announces $3 Million State Grant To Lessen Infant Mortality

State Representative Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) today applauds the allocation of $3 million in state funds for First Year Cleveland, a city-county initiative to combat Cuyahoga County’s alarmingly high infant mortality rates. The state investment is part of a total $26.8 million allocated in the latest state budget to support community-driven proposals to combat infant mortality at the local level and enhance efficacy among various agencies that provide care for at-risk women and infants.

“I am both pleased and hopeful to see state funding allocated towards this important issue for Cuyahoga County,” said Antonio. “Ohio's abysmal infant mortality rate and strategies for positive change have been a large part of my advocacy in Columbus this past 131st General Assembly. First Year Cleveland’s partnership with the state will bolster the efforts of community health advocates and I am hopeful that this partnership will help educate the public on preventative practices, provide prenatal care for mothers, and pursue innovative solutions to help more infants reach their first birthday.”

Cuyahoga County averages an infant mortality rate of 14.51 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. Ohio ranks 45th in the nation in overall infant mortality with a rate of 6.8 deaths per 1,000 births, and last in African American infant mortality with a rate of 14.3— more than twice the rate of white babies.

The state investment, from the Ohio Department of Medicaid, will support the following community projects:

-The Centering Pregnancy Program, a state initiative first tested in 2015, will provide prenatal care to groups of eight to twelve women in 90-minute sessions. These sessions are coordinated by a group facilitator and nurse midwives, and follow the schedule of regular prenatal visits. Education and group discussion of breastfeeding, nutrition, parenting and other pregnancy-related concerns will be a primary focus of these meetings. Total Funding Amount: $760,000.

-Several home visiting programs are to be strengthened by state funding. These programs provide in-home visits to mothers before and after delivery. Studies show that mothers who participate in these programs have better prenatal health and fewer subsequent pregnancies. Total Funding Amount: $2 million.

-Local fatherhood initiatives will fund programs to educate new fathers about how to care for their newborn children. Total Funding Amount: $200,000.

Nickie Antonio

State Representative Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood) is honored to be serving her third term in the Ohio House of Representatives, where she was elected by her collegaues as Minority Whip for the 131st General Assembly. House District 13 includes the city of Lakewood in its entirety and parts of Cleveland’s West Side including the Detroit Shoreway (Gordon Square Arts District), the Stockyards, West Boulevard, Cuddell, the Village of Linndale, and a section of Ohio City neighborhoods. Representative Antonio is a civic minded public servant who is concerned with the quality of life of those around her and has been a social justice advocate working for human rights and equality for all people for more than two decades. Antonio began her public policy service when she was elected to Lakewood City Council in 2005 and was re-elected in 2009. During her tenure on Lakewood City Council she chaired the Economic Development, Housing, and Human Services committees and served on the Public Works and Finance Committees and was the council representative for the Lakewood Hospital Board and Community Relations Boards. She brought successful strategies for economic development through proactive policies such as the first ever sidewalk dining legislation, the results of which can be seen today in the vibrant outdoor dining scene throughout the city. Ever concerned about environmental policy and practice, Antonio also shepherded through legislation to reduce toxic emissions through a reduced idling ordinance. Antonio also exercised leadership by developing opportunities for diversity appreciation and understanding and civic engagement through the Lakewood Community Relations Advisory Commission of which she was a founder and promoted citizen human rights by expanding protections in the existing municipal intimidation laws. She also championed the push to retain funding for senior programs and services. Antonio is an alumni of the Harvard Kennedy School Senior and Executive Leadership program for State and Local governments. The first in her family to graduate from college, Antonio holds a Master of Public Administration Degree from the Maxine Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education, also from CSU. She is a graduate of Lutheran West High School located in Rocky River, Ohio. A former Special Education teacher and non-profit Executive Director for a women’s outpatient drug/alcohol treatment program, she also served for nearly two decades as a consultant to non-profits and governmental agencies throughout Northeast Ohio and served as administrator for a multi-County HIV/AIDS regional planning group. During this same period she was an Adjunct Professor at CSU teaching courses in Women’s Studies and Public Administration policies and practice. She continues her civic involvement through membership in numerous community groups and serves in an advisory capacity for Spaces Art Gallery and on the board of the non-profit Cleveland Tenants Organization. Antonio currently serves as Ranking Member of the Health and Aging Committee. She also serves on the Finance and Appropriations Committee, Finance Subcommittee on Health and Human Services, the Joint Medicaid Oversight Committee, and the Joint Legislative Committee for Unified Long-Term Servics and Supports. Rep. Antonio is a member of the Ohio House Democratic Women's Caucus. Because of her social justice advocacy and activity, Antonio is known as a collaborative community builder and organizer. She is an enthusiastic proponent of the arts and civic engagement as some of the best tools available to develop local and statewide viability and economic success. She is also a certified coach and advocates the benefits to the world when people are valued and encouraged to rise to their highest potential and purpose. Daughters Ariel and Stacey, both Lakewood High School graduates, have made Rep. Antonio and wife Jean Kosmac very proud as the girls engage in their post-secondary pursuits.

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Volume 12, Issue 13, Posted 8:13 PM, 06.21.2016