The Vernon Parrish Coroner's Office is offering a class promoting and teaching safe sleep habits for new and expecting mothers.

The program, Cribs for Kids Initiative, is aimed toward reducing and eliminating deaths due to infants placed in unsafe sleeping environments.

"Basically, kids are sleeping in bed with their mom and dad or in car seats and swings," Vernon Parish Chief Deputy Coroner Sharron Green said. "What we are finding out is that this is causing their death. This has been happening for years.

"We are taking the initiative to educate the public. This is going to be our first one here."

The Vernon Parish Coroner's Office partnered with the Calcasieu Parish Coroner's Office along with Cribs for Kids to get the program started. Since the program launched in Calsasieu Parish, infant deaths have dropped by 70 percent.

Green says Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is an often used diagnosis that can be attributed to the sleep environment.

"In the past, these deaths have been linked to SIDS," Green said. "What we're saying is that we don't know why these kids quit breathing, but they did. In the last two years, we've been doing scene investigations, which is something we hadn't done prior.

"We're investing and finding out that babies are dying when they're co-sleeping or sleeping in these swings."

The program is a non-profit and runs off of donations to offer more classes. It is looking for more donations to keep it afloat in Vernon Parish.

Attendees of the class will take home a Graco Pack 'n Play. which provides an ideal sleep environment for infants.

The class takes place at 1 p.m. on Thursday at NSU Fort Polk. To register or for more information, contact Green at 337-392-2349.