The National Diaper Bank Network (NDBN), in partnership with the Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis, is undertaking a fully-funded, national research project. Created to assess the economic and fiscal impacts of free diaper distribution to families in need, the project offers NDBN member diaper banks the opportunity to participate in breakthrough research with local, state and national implications.

What difference can a diaper make?

National study will measure impact of receiving free diapers for needy families

NEW HAVEN — The National Diaper Bank Network (NDBN) is embarking on a multi-year study to measure the economic effect across the U.S. of providing free diapers to families with young children.

NDBN was founded to help the one in two families who cannot afford an adequate supply of diapers for their children. Its members, in 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, provide free diapers to families in need. This marks the first national study to measure the effect of receiving diapers.

The principal investigator is Kelley E.C. Massengale, MPH, PhD, and co-investigator is Lynn Comer, MS. They are partnering with the Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis at the University of Connecticut. The work is funded by the Seedlings Foundation. The project is unusual in that it will train nonprofit staff and volunteers at 60 diaper bank locations to collect and report data.

“The benefits of free diapers that have been documented in state-level studies are simply too big to ignore, both in economic and fiscal impact and in family health,” said NDBN CEO Joanne Samuel Goldblum. “This national study is modeled after a state-level one that revealed an $11 rise in family income for every $1 spent on diaper aid. If we come anywhere near replicating those results nationally, that will produce actionable information at a time of tremendous economic need.”

“This project is exciting both because of the critical information we’ll gain and because of the way it is being undertaken,” said Massengale.”Our research partners will be community-based nonprofits throughout the National Diaper Bank Network. They’ll be taking on new roles, gaining new skills, and providing an enormous benefit to their communities and to the field.”

The five communities/regions targeted to participate in the first phase of the study include:

  • Central Florida
  • Central Pennsylvania
  • Cincinnati
  • Southern Florida
  • Missouri
  • Utah

Phase two will expand to include 55 additional communities for a total of 60 participating regions.

NDBN has a history of leading or partnering with academics on research around diaper need. In 2013, it contributed to the first peer-reviewed study on diaper need and demonstrated an association with maternal depression. The study was published in the journal Pediatrics. NDBN researchers also worked with Dr. Massengale on her study published in the American Journal of Public Health (2020) that established diaper need as a public health issue.

As the economic impact study progresses, updates will be made available.

Organizations interested in learning more about the study and/or applying to participate in the research, please email NDBN Director of Research and Evaluations Lynn Comer.