What is the United Way Diaper Bank?
The Diaper Bank began as a collaborative effort between agencies in 2014, eventually falling under the umbrella of United Way of Franklin County. In June 2020 the bank was expanded to serve sites in Hampshire County. The Bank currently distribute about 6,000 to 10,000 diapers free of charge each month to families in need through fourteen local food pantries and family centers. Our outreach has been extended through our pilot cloth diapering service ‘scholarship’ program. And we are working to increase awareness of both ‘diaper need’ and of more environmentally -friendly diapering options. We are funded by grants, our annual diaper drive and generous donations from our community members.
Diapers are as essential to a baby's healthy development as food and shelter. Keeping infants and toddlers clean, dry, and healthy is key to building a solid foundation for all children to reach their full potential. Babies left too long in dirty diapers have increased health risks. They cry more, which increases parental stress and risk for abuse. But many families don't have the clean diapers they need. In fact, 1 in 3 moms reports struggling to access enough clean diapers. Without enough clean diapers, babies may not be allowed at daycare or developmental programs outside the home and parents can end up missing out on work or school. Most working parents rely on child care and most child care facilities require parents to provide diapers for their child. The cascade effect to our society from lack of a simple diaper cannot be overestimated. Read more about diaper need here.
What about government assistance?
While diapers are a basic need, they are not covered by public assistance like SNAP or WIC. The average monthly supply of diapers costs about $100-$150. TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) is the only federal assistance program that can be used to purchase diapers. However, TANF has to cover many other expenses, including heat, electric and water bills, rent, clothing, transportation, and other basic needs. In Massachusetts, there is no exemption from the work-related activity requirement after the birth of a child for single-parent households receiving TANF.
What about cloth diapers?
Cloth diapers are great! They're better for the environment and more economical than disposables in the long term. However, most early childhood education programs and daycares won't accept kids in cloth diapers. Additionally, most laundromats don't allow the washing of cloth diapers in their facilities, meaning cloth diapers are not an option for families that don't have access to their own washer and dryer. With funds raised from our 2019 Diaper Drives, we are funding ‘scholarships’ in partnership with Changing Habits Diapering Service, so that families can learn about cloth diapering practices and have access to free and discounted laundering services.
How can I help?
During the Covid-19 crisis we are asking for cash donations to support the bank. This will help limit contact and allow the bank purchase the sizes needed for our partners. We hope to resume accepting in-kind donations soon! Please click here to give now!
How can I receive diapers?
Diapers are available at the Community Action Family Center, the Orange Pantry through Franklin County Community Meals Program, The Center for Self Reliance Food Pantry, Montague Catholic Social Ministries, Leyden Woods, It Takes a Village, The Children’s Closet in North Leverett, GCC Food pantry, Charlemont Good Neighbors and the West County Food pantry in Shelburne Falls. Please click here for a list of distribution site contact information.