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What to Do if You Can’t Afford a Car Seat

Photograph by Twenty20

I saw a story recently on a police officer from Traverse City, Michigan, who pulled a mom over for a car seat infraction. More specifically, she had a six-year-old child in the back seat without any kind of car seat or booster. And by now we all know that this is against the law and usually would result in the issuing of a ticket.

But instead of a ticket, the officer chose to do something extraordinary instead

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After speaking with the mom, the officer found out that the reasons her child wasn't in a car seat was because she couldn't afford a car seat. So what did he do? He bought her one. He went to the store and purchased a car seat for her child with money from his own pocket. I love that he did this, and I love when we are reminded of all the good things police officers do for their communities.

You may be short on funds right now but there's no need for your child's safety to be in question.

But what really blows my mind is how with all the government help available and all the charities we have today, a mother would feel like she has no choice but to drive someplace without her child in a car seat. After doing a little digging around, I found out that there are multiple ways to obtain a car seat even if you can't afford one. I don't suggest the method of just driving around and hoping a cop will pull you over and buy you a car seat—you're going to have to be proactive and make some phone calls at the very least.

First, check in with your local police station or hospital. Let them know your situation and ask if they can help. If they can't, there are several other resources at your disposal.

Another good plan is to check with your local WIC (Women, Infants, Children) office. They provide all manner of services to low-income parents and often provide vouchers for free car seats to parents who qualify and complete a short class about car seat safety. They can also help with breast pumps, food and formula. WIC is a wonderful resource.

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You can also check with your local Safe Kids Coalition who may be able to supply you with a free or reduced price car seat.

And if you're out of a car seat because it was involved in a car wreck, most insurance policies will cover a new seat for your kid. Just don't let them continue riding in a seat that's been in an accident!

All that to say, you have options. You may be short on funds right now but there's no need for your child's safety to be in question. Do what you need to do to make sure your child is safe while you travel.

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