Why Diapers?


Diaper Need Facts:

  • CT Poverty Statistics: 38% of children under the age of 3 years old live below the poverty level.
  • Statistics show that a pregnant mother will go without food in order to purchase diapers for her child. Having to sacrifice one meal has the same negative effects of taking cocaine. By providing diapers to families in need, we hope that a mother will never have to make this decision.
  • 1 in 3 families in the USA have a diaper need. 6 – 12 diapers are needed per day for infants/toddlers at an average cost of $100 per month.
  • Children must have a full day’s worth of disposable diapers to attend even government subsidized daycare.
  • Diapers and toiletries are not covered under safety net programs such as SNAP (food stamps) or WIC (woman, infants and children).
  • Bare Necessities is the only recognized diaper bank on the CT shoreline.

Not having a full day’s supply of diapers impacts a family in the following ways…

Diaper Need is a Public Health Issue

Parents who cannot afford to provide enough diapers for their child are forced to leave their baby in a soiled diaper longer than is appropriate. This frequently leads to diaper rash and may cause staph infections and urinary tract infections.

Research published in the Medical Journal Pediatrics (in 2013) showed that staying in soiled diapers increases a child’s risk for painful skin rashes, scarring and infections with potentially serious side effects such as kidney damage, poor growth and struggles developmentally and socially (https://blogs.babycenter.com/mom_stories/04172014-diaper-need-a-growing-health-problem/).

At any given time, over 2 million American babies (20–25%) have some type of diaper irritation — 10% (over 200K) being severe enough to blister, bleed, or peel.

Public health workers have traced outbreaks in E.coli and Shigellosis to childcare diapering practices (https://medium.com/@ninjasforhealth/6-public-heath-problems-caused-by-the-diapergap-70ff76b127b6).

Diaper Need is an Education and Employment Issue

  • Without a day’s worth of disposable diapers, children from low income families cannot attend daycare.
  • CT State daycare slots go unused because families cannot afford diapers.
  • Children who come from lower income families hear 3 million less words than middle class children by age 4.
  • Within an “in need” neighborhood only 1 in every 13 children owns a book.
  • In a middle class home every child has at least 13 books.

This is why education through daycare is so important.

Diaper Need is a Maternal Mental Health Issue

Dr. Megan Smith, an assistant professor of Psychiatry at Yale University, has done research on the lifelong impact of how the stressors of diaper need affects families. Her research has brought diaper need to the forefront:

  • Not being able to provide diapers for children is the #1 stressor for mothers even over the stress of affording food.
  • When families have basic needs, such as diapers, laundry detergent, and feminine hygiene products, it opens more space in the prefrontal cortex to allow for bonding and attachment.

Not having to worry about basic necessities opens economic paths for parents.

The National Diaper Bank Network collaborated with the New Haven MOMS Partnership at the Yale University School of Medicine on a study that showed a link between diaper need and maternal depression. Maternal depression in associated with a host of bad outcomes for families, including involvement in the child welfare system (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joanne-goldblum/white-house-takes-action_b_9461242.html)

“An adequate supply of diapers may prove to be a tangible way of reducing parenting stress and increasing parenting sense of competency, enabling parents to be more sensitive with their children, and thereby improving parenting quality and overall child outcomes,” – Megan Smith, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine

Diaper shortages have been directly linked to child abuse. Babies with diaper rash are cranky, cry more, and bond less. Crying adds to a parent’s stress and increases likelihood of abuse (https://medium.com/@ninjasforhealth/6-public-heath-problems-caused-by-the-diapergap-70ff76b127b6).

The only federal assistance program that can be used for diapers is TANF. However, funds from TANF must cover other expenses such as rent, heat, electric, water, clothing, transportation and other basic essentials.  In Connecticut, it is estimated that 18% of children under the age of three years live in families earning less than 100% of the federal poverty level. Also, 39% of Connecticut TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) families have at least one child under the age of three years (Source: National Diaper Bank Network, State Facts). In CT the maximum amount of cash allowance for a 1 parent 2 child household is $698 if you are able to receive cash assistance.  The cost of diapers is 11% of the total allowance.  Children cannot attend day-care, even government subsidized day care, without a day’s supply of disposable diapers. In CT, 70% of moms with infants are in the workforce.  (2016 State Baby Facts, National Diaper Bank Network).

Diapers and toiletries are not covered under social safety net programs such as SNAP (formerly food stamps) or WIC (women, infants and children). These are nutritional assistance programs.

The need for diaper assistance was further recognized in November 2015 by the introduction of the Hygiene Assistance for Families of Infants and Toddlers Act of 2015 (HR 4055) by Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT). The bill aims to create a project for states to provide diapers or diaper subsidies for low-income families (Source: Nov 18, 2015 Press Release titled Ellison, DeLauro Introduce Legislation to Provide Diaper Assistance). In 2017 the bill was reintroduced by Rep. Ellison and Rep. DeLauro (HR 1143) and a companion bill is in the process of being introduced in the Senate by Senator Al Franken (D-MN).