According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, properly restraining a child in an age- and size-appropriate car seat can reduce the risk of death by as much as 71 percent. In Texas, you're required to secure a child under 8 years old in a child car seat, unless the child is over 4 feet 9 inches tall. If you live in Texas and can't afford a car seat, several programs can provide a free one for your child.
Texas Department of State Health Services
The Texas Department of State Health Services runs the Child Safety Seat Distribution and Education Program. The program informs caregivers about child passenger safety and provides free car seats to low-income families. To receive a car seat, at least one of the child's primary caregivers must participate in a one-hour child passenger safety class. Although you don't need to have your own vehicle, someone in the household must have one. The program does not provide infant carriers, but convertible rear and forward facing seats are available. For older children, booster seats are provided. Call 800-252-8255 for more information or to schedule a child passenger safety class.
St. John's Community Center in Travis County
St. John's Community Center provides various services to help low-income families in Travis County, including its free Car Seat Program. You'll need to take a car seat safety class to receive a car seat. Rear-facing, front-facing and booster seats are available for infants and children. Your child and vehicle must be present when you pick up the car seat to ensure that it's installed properly. Call 512-972-5159 for more information.
Scott & White Healthcare Center
The Kidsafe Child Passenger Safety Injury Prevention Program is administered by Scott & White Healthcare Center. The program serves the heart of Texas, including Bosque, Falls, Freestone, Hill, Limestone and McLennan. Car seats are distributed to low-income families free of charge. There are no required courses, but Safe Kids does offer child passenger safety classes for both adults and children. For an appointment or more information, call 254-202-6537.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas offers the Free Infant Car Seat Program for pregnant women. You don't need to have insurance coverage through Blue Cross Blue Shield to be eligible. The program is open to pregnant Medicaid recipients throughout the state and helps encourage prenatal care. To receive a free car seat, you must earn a total of 4 points through required doctor visits. Each prenatal visit is worth a specified number of points. To qualify, you must enroll in the program and have your doctor fill out a prenatal visits form. Call 888-292-4480 for more information.
- Texas Department of State Health Services: Child Safety Seat Distribution and Education Program
- Heart of Texas Regional Access System: Car Seat Program
- 211 Texas: KidSafe Child Passenger Safety Injury Prevention Program
- Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas: Free Infant Car Seat Program
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Child Passenger Safety - Get the Facts
- DMV.org: Safety Laws in Texas
- 211 Texas: Child Passenger Safety Seats
- Texas Department of Public Safety: Child Passenger Safety Information