‘My family is going through a rough patch and we don’t have enough money to buy a safe car seat for our child. What can I do?’ This is a scenario we hear more than we’d like to. There is hope, a seat can be found for your child. Here are a few resources that may be able to provide free and reduced price seats:
1) Local Safe Kids Coalition – Many Safe Kids coalitions supply free or reduced price seats or can recommend where they can be acquired in your area. To find a local coalition, please check the Safe Kids website.
2) Local CPSTs – Even if you don’t have a local Safe Kids Coalition, many communities still have certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians (CPSTs) that can direct you where to go. Go to Safe Kids’ CPS Certification website and click on Find a technician/instructor on the right hand side of the page. This search works best if you enter only your county or larger city area.
4) Local hospitals
5) Local women’s and children’s services – WIC, Planned Parenthood, and/or Dept of Child Services
6) Call 211 for Essential Community Resources. If available in your area, this service can direct you toward local resources.
It is NOT recommended to acquire seats from eBay, Craigslist, garage sales, thrift or consignment stores. The history of these seats are unknown, so there’s no way to know if they have been crashed or mistreated in some way. The general rule of thumb is only use a used seat if you trust the previous owner with your child’s life.