New parents leaving the hospital in Kansas walk away with their newborn child and a $5,000 bill, the state average. They need all the help they can get to cover costs — not to mention costs of nursery items, clothing and more once medical bills are paid.

In order ease the financial burden, the McPherson County Health Department has partnered with Suncrest Mennonite Church in Galva by giving parents a layette care package with multiple items for newborns.

"We receive those layettes as a donation from the Suncrest Mennonite church ladies and we feel like their generous gift is helpful to families who have limited resources for their new babies. It also serves as an incentive and reminder to the new parents to get their babies immunized and to utilize our services," said Fern Hess, director of the health department.

The layettes are personally put together by the Suncrest Mennonite church sewing group, which has items that are both hand made and store bought.

"The quilts are hand made along with the burp cloth and flannel receiving blanket. It also comes with pair of socks, onesies, a sleeper, a bib and a book," Hess explained.

Most parents are very appreciative of the gift like Jackie Christiansen, who has been going to the McPherson Health Department since their oldest child was born in 2012.

“The newborn package is not only thoughtful, but truly useful. It’s no surprise that our health department has partnered with the Suncrest Mennonite Church to do this because McPherson County has proven to me time and time again that we are a community that takes care of one another,” Christiansen said.

Most layettes are given to parents bringing in their children for a WIC (women, infants and children's) program appointment or two-month immunizations, due to the high amount of newborns seen in that department.

The WIC nutrition program is designed for pregnant, postpartum and breast feeding mothers and children who are ages five and under.

"The layettes are fitting for that age group. The WIC program is a federal program that follows strict protocol and guidelines. After we're completely done with that visit, we offer the layettes to the individuals," Hess said. "They do have to meet certain factors to participate in WIC and we know we'll see babies with that program. So that's why there's an association with the layettes and this program."

However, there are no qualifying factors that prevent parents from receiving a layette.

"I wouldn't say those are the only ones that get them, but those are our primary services. The only other infant services we might see would be a child's wellness check up. If the parent hasn't seen us before, we would certainly offer the layette to them as well. The WIC and immunization appointment is just where we see the most infants," she added.

Other services the health department provides for families with children include: supporting and promoting healthy pregnancies, providing breast feeding support, children's wellness assessments, child immunizations and adult immunizations.

For more information, call the health department at 620-241-1753 or visit their website at http://www.mcphersoncountyks.us/15/Health-Department or visit their Facebook page.

Contact Brooke Haas by email at bhaas@mcphersonsentinel.com or follow her on Twitter @ MacSentinel.