CPS may become \"Breastfeeding Friendly Worksite\"

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COLUMBIA - The Columbia City Council is set to discuss a proposal to assist Columbia Public Schools (CPS) in becoming a "Breastfeeding Friendly Worksite."

The Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services would assist CPS in developing a lactation policy and purchasing equipment. The equipment would be used by employees to meet state standards set through the Breastfeeding Friendly Worksite program

Michelle Shikles, a Public Health Promotions Supervisor with the health department, said CPS would eventually outfit all of its buildings with lactation rooms, featuring breast pumps and comfortable seating for mothers to pump breastmilk. She said CPS would be the second district in the state to become a Breastfeeding Friendly Worksite and by far the largest. 

Shikles said the program would help both babies and their working mothers.  

"It reduces absenteeism, it reduces workforce turnover," Shikles said. "Breastfeeding has so many benefits for the baby and the mother."

Shikles said CPS currently does not have the kind of dedicated rooms ideal for breastfeeding. 

"Currently, they're trying to make the best accomodations that they can," Shikles said. "Some of their buildings are small and they don't necessarily have the extra space for a lactation room."

State grant money would fund the upgrades. 

CPS spokeswoman Michelle Baumstark said employees are giving the district a lot of positive feedback over the potential breastfeeding improvements.