diaper need awareness weekSeptember 25 to October 1, 2017

Archive for February, 2015

HuffPost Live Covers Diaper Need!

Posted on: February 23, 2015 by admin

NDBN’s Joanne Goldblum, The Diaper Bank’s Janet Stolfi Alfano, and The New Haven MOMs Partnership’s Natasha Rivera-LaButhie appeared on HuffPost Live, on Feb. 20, to discuss “What Happens When Poor Moms Can’t Afford Diapers?” with host Nancy Redd.

The Week Calls for Clean Diapers for Every Baby!

Posted on: February 23, 2015 by admin

The following column by Elissa Strauss appeared February 19, 2015 in The Week.

Why every American baby deserves a fresh diaper — courtesy of the U.S. government

“It’s time we stop treating child care as a side issue, or a women’s issue, and treat it like the national economic priority that it is for all of us,” President Obama said in his recent State of the Union address. He then requested tax breaks for childcare and advocated for expanding access to paid parental leave and sick leave — important steps to be sure. What he missed, however, was poop.

As his $80 billion agenda winds through the government, there is something else we can do to help working parents, one that would help millions of working families: make diapers more affordable.

We needn’t look far. A new law proposed by Connecticut State Rep. Kelly Luxenberg (D) would exempt both diapers and feminine hygiene products from the state’s sales tax. A similar law proposed by Illinois State Senator Martin Sandoval last month would drop the tax to just 1 percent.

“Diapers are a necessity for every baby in Connecticut,” Rep. Luxenbergtold Patch“I was shocked when I learned that this essential product is taxed. There is a double-standard when baby diapers are taxed and adult diapers are not under the medical exemption.”

If the Connecticut law goes into effect, it will save families around $300 a year, and the Illinois one around $45 per year. It may not be much, but it is a step towards rethinking what is considered a necessity (generally not taxed) and what is considered a luxury. Food and medicine are exempt from sales tax in most states, so why not diapers?

According to the National Diaper Bank Network, one in three families struggle to buy diapers for the nearly six million children under the age of three living in poor or low-income families today. Diapers cost up to $100 per month per baby and cannot be purchased with food stamps. The price can double or even triple for those who purchase them at local convenience stores rather than big box discount stores — which is common for those lacking access to or unable to afford transportation. Cloth diapers are not a viable alternative because laundromats don’t allow customers to wash them, and daycares don’t want to deal with them.

So what do poor families do? For one, they keep their children in soiled diapers as long as possible. This makes for unhappy babies and, inevitably, unhappy mothers. A Yale study from 2013 found that mothers without an adequate diaper supply are more likely to experience depression and anxiety, which can in turn have long term effects on their children. Also, without diapers parents can’t send their children to free early childhood education programs, which, according to one study, makes them 2.5 percent more likely to go on to higher education.

The big problem with the way diapers — and similarly, feminine hygiene products — are distributed and sold is that they were long considered a women’s problem, and women’s problems have long been considered something women should deal with on their own. Because young children’s needs were considered women’s needs, our babies have long been neglected too.

But now we find ourselves in the middle of a massive shift in which things that were traditionally seen as women’s private matters are now being viewed as public concerns. This is partially due to the slow realization of gender equality in the U.S. But it’s also because in this age of dual-breadwinner and single-parent households, there is no longer a woman around to take care of all the woman’s stuff. Procuring diapers, along with childcare, and, yes even tampons, is not something women should be expected to just figure out on their own any longer.

We need to make sure diapers are available to every child in this country that needs one, whether through the use of subsidies by way of tax breaks, the ability to use public assistance funding like food stamps to buy diapers, or direct handouts at daycare centers for low income families.

That lawmakers are finally coming around to this is surely a sign of hope.

In the City of Angels

Posted on: February 12, 2015 by admin

by Sydney Fry

Nearly 10 years ago, Caroline Kunitz became aware of diaper need and decided to find a way to help families in her community. She worked with local social service providers and came up with a plan to use diapers as incentives to increase parental participation in classes on childrearing, life skills, and GED prep, among others.

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Diaper banker Caroline Kunitz named Champions for Change.

Her leadership and determination resulted in the creation of Southern California’s LA Diaper Drive, which today operates as BabyBuggy LA one of the largest organizations of its kind in the country.

In recognition of her work, Caroline has been named as a recipient of the Champions for Change honor by the National Diaper Bank Network (NDBN).

Matt Kunitz, Caroline’s husband, nominated her for the honor.

“For nearly a decade, I’ve seen firsthand Caroline’s willingness to work tirelessly, and without a salary, to advance this cause and LA Diaper Drive,” he said.

Caroline was compelled into action in 2005, after viewing a Today show segment about Baby Buggy’s first diaper campaign with Jessica Seinfeld. As mother to one-year-old daughter Kate, Caroline understood the basic needs of infants.  She was shocked to learn that many low-wage mothers with limited resources frequently face a daily dilemma when it comes to securing basic necessities…a distressing choice between paying rent, buying food or providing clean diapers for her child. This unimaginable reality broke her heart.

Caroline set a goal of collecting one million diapers to help as many babies as she could in the Los Angeles area.

Achieving her goal proved difficult as she encountered many uphill battles, yet she forged ahead.

After a few years of personally delivering diapers in her car, Caroline began receiving and distributing truckloads of diapers out of her home and amassed a strong team of talented volunteers for support. Caroline credits friend and fellow mom Melissa Ratcliff, who had a background in public policy, for helping formulate programs and policies that attracted donations and forged community-based change from day one.

LA Diaper Bank reached a crucial turning point in 2011, when Caroline participated in a social innovation, fast-pitch competition. She won the competition, resulting in newfound attention and support.

By 2013, the nonprofit became one of the largest diaper banks in the country. With new office space, a warehouse and much needed paid staff, it also officially moved out of Caroline’s house.

Last year, Caroline accepted an opportunity to merge LA Diaper Drive with New York City-based Baby Buggy, thereby allowing Baby Buggy to reach even more Los Angeles families.

While the merger allows others to carry on the day-to-day operations of the diaper bank, Caroline is able to provide her decade of experience and knowledge to Baby Buggy as a member of its Board of Directors.

“Caroline worked tirelessly to create one of the largest diaper banks in this country,” said Katherine Snider, Executive Director of Baby Buggy. “Her commitment and passion make a real impact on tens of thousands of families in need. We are very fortunate to have her in the Baby Buggy family, helping to ensure that struggling families will continue to get the items they need to keep their children safe and healthy.”

Caroline’s legacy of success for LA Diaper Drive is marked by its grassroots beginnings and its evolution into the dynamic organization that distributed nearly three million diapers last year alone.

Sydney Fry is a volunteer writer for NDBN