Once you have goals, seats, and a tech, now what do you do?


To distribute a car seat, you will need:

An appointment includes the following steps:

  • Receive call and set up appointment.
  • Invite drivers and children to sit down and fill out the Child Safety Restraint Check Up Form.
  • While they fill it out, share information on car safety and car seat use, such as WHALE (We Have a Little Emergency) and give out Always Buckle Up Your Kids, Every Trip, Every Time. (Print this two-sided and include your contact information in the space provided)
  • Weigh and measure kids.
  • Check existing seats to see if they fit the child and have not expired.
  • If not, find the best car seat for the child from your distribution program.
  • Go out to their car, read the manual or LATCH, or both, and install the seat properly.
  • Show the driver(s) how to buckle their children in safely.
  • Have the driver(s) install the seat and buckle their children in, so that you know they are comfortable doing it safely, and so that they are liable and responsible for the children.

A CPS tech explains her daily operations for her child safety seat distribution program:


Crissy’s Experience

How a Car Seat Check Appointment Works

“When someone calls the clinic about our car seat distribution program, the call gets forwarded to me or the other CPS techs at Nimiipuu Health, our Tribal clinic.  I ask them when they would like to come in to do a car seat check, and we set up an appointment.  Once they arrive for their appointment, I have them sit down and start to fill out the paperwork for the Child Safety Restraint Check Up FormWhile they are starting that, I go over the WHALE (We Have A Little Emergency) packet.  It is a nice kit that contains your child’s information and stickers that can be applied to their car seat and the window they sit at.  If you are ever in an accident, emergency responders coming to the scene know that there is a child in the vehicle and exactly where they are located.  The child information card asks for information like your child’s name, date of birth, medical history, and emergency contacts so if the driver is unconscious then emergency responders know if the child has allergies or special needs.  If your child ever gets a new seat and you need a new WHALE packet, you might be able to get them from your state. Check http://www.whaleprogram.org/ for a program near you.

Some of the other information that we give out during a car seat check is the Always Buckle Up Your Kids, Every Trip, Every Time brochure.  This brochure has a lot of great tips that parents may not know or may have forgotten.  It covers Infants, toddlers, younger Kids, and older kids and the type of seat or safety restraint they need.  It has my contact information on it as the Native CARS Site Coordinator and CPS tech for my tribe.

We also like to hand out The USAA Educational Foundations Installing Child Safety Seats booklet This is a 20-page booklet that covers selecting and installing a child safety seat, general guidelines, compatibility issues, and more. It also has great pictures showing correct and incorrect ways of installing all of the different types of seats, so parents and caregivers can see an actual picture to go along with the explanation.  This book also provides contact information for NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) and how to find CPS techs in your area, which is very helpful for parents if they ever have questions and need an answer.

Once we have covered all of these handouts, they are usually finished with the top portion of the Car Seat Check-up Form.  From here, I take their child and measure their height and weight ,so we can get the best seat possible for them. A lot of times we have families come to us and their child does not have a seat.  They have been riding in a seat belt or on a parents lap.  If they do come in with a seat, we get that seat’s information and check it out to make sure it is still safe and appropriate for that child.  A lot of times we have seen that seats have been passed down from sibling-to-sibling or cousin-to-cousin and the seat has been expired for years.  A majority of car seats have an expiration date of 6 years.  Sometimes the labels and everything for the seat is worn off and worn out, so we just get them a new seat since we don’t know the history of the one they are using.

From here we start to complete the checklist that is on the check-up form and get the seat fitted to the child.  We make sure that the harness is threaded correctly in the slots, that the angle of seat is appropriate for the child; the retainer clip is at arm pit level, an on down the checklist.  I like to educate parents on using LATCH or using a seat belt.  A lot of times parents don’t understand what LATCH is or how it works in their car. They don’t know they can use the top tether with the seat belt or with LATCH, but not all of them together.  It’s fun to share tips and tricks with parents or things that have worked well with my own kids and their car seats.

Once the checklist has been completed we take the child and the seat out to the car.  Depending on the car and the time frame they have, we will look at their owner’s manual and the LATCH manual to see the best placement for their car seat.  We can show them best practice, but it is always parent’s choice of what they want to do with their child.  Some parents already know where they want to place the seat in their vehicle, so if that is the case, I begin by showing the parent how to install the car seat correctly in the car. Once it is installed correctly, I take the seat out and have the parent or caregiver install it.  The seats needs to be installed by the parent or caregiver before leaving, so they know how to do it and feel comfortable doing it.  It also takes the liability away from us at the clinic and puts it on the parent, since they are the one who installed it”.

More resources

Here are a few activities for children while they get their seat checked:

Printable Kids Activities 

Animals Word Search

Word Search #2

Blank Star Quilt (all found on resources page as well)

To learn more about how to make sure your community knows about your program, go to the next section.