May 20, 2024

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – A state grant worth up to nearly $439,000 will bolster the ongoing efforts of Allen County Department of Health officials to lessen the harmful effects of lead on children.

The department’s Healthy Homes Program works with families, health care providers and other agencies to prevent childhood lead poisoning through education, screening, case management and enforcement of healthy housing practices, according to a media release from the health department.

“This grant will assist in providing education, lead case management and identification of sources of lead for children under 7 and their families as we support them in making informed decisions about the health of their children,” said Josh Blauvelt, Vector Control and Healthy Homes program coordinator for the Health Department’s Environmental Services Division. “Even at very low levels, lead exposure can lead to serious health problems, which means testing and early intervention are extremely important.”

Exposure to lead can cause brain damage, slowed growth and development, behavior problems and problems with hearing and speech, the media release said.

There are typically more than 4,000 lead screenings conducted each year in Allen County, and dozens of children with elevated lead levels are referred to the Health Department for case management services, department officials said.

“Funding is key to fighting any public health problem, and this grant allows us to continue the necessary and important fight against lead and its effect,” said Department Administrator Mindy Waldron.

The department is among 150 entities granted more than $35 million through the Health Issues and Challenges Program – an Indiana Department of Health initiative approved for 2021 by the Indiana General Assembly with funding from the federal American Rescue Plan Act.

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