"Diaper banks" form to help growing numbers of financially struggling new parents

A Tucson, Arizona, nonprofits consultant started organizing "diaper drives" in the 1990s to donate diapers to families in need. In 2000, the city opened the Diaper Bank of Southern Arizona, the first diaper bank in the nation.
By Kathy Fey | Aug 23, 2017
Most working adults cut back on work hoursat least temporarilywhen they have children. But many modest-income adults who are barely making ends meet have found that reducing work hours leaves them with too little income to provide for themselves or their new children. For these cash-strapped parents, a growing array of "diaper banks" have opened their doors with vital baby-care goods to help get them through the lean times.

A newborn baby can go through 3,000 diapers in his or her first year, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. This adds up to a hefty shopping expense when the mother or father is struggling just to make rent each month, as indicated by a 2013 study that found that 27% of parents reported worrying that they could not afford enough diapers for their children. Of this percentage, 10% asked friends for help and 8% sometimes delayed changing their babies' wet diapers.

A Tucson, Arizona, nonprofits consultant started organizing "diaper drives" in the 1990s to donate diapers to families in need. In 2000, the city opened the Diaper Bank of Southern Arizona, the first diaper bank in the nation. More than 300 have opened nationwide in the 17 years since, and last year they distributed a combined 50 million diapers to more than 200,000 children.

Diaper bank leaders said that the need is too great for them to meet alone, however. Joanne Goldblum, director of the National Diaper Bank Network, called on public officials to support more aid programs for the nation's struggling families.
"The truth is we do not have a social safety net to speak of for many, many Americans," she said.

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