For more than a year, the Diaper Bank of Connecticut (founded in 2004) was carefully planning to build critical infrastructure to expand statewide. As well, the board of directors of the Diaper Bank of Skagit County was defining strategy to reach more families in the Eastern part of the County. Then, as said “the world suddenly turned upside-down”, and our process to expand sped up.
As families began to feel desperate, a surge of support from donors lifted us. We purchased the largest amount of diapers ever! We filled our need for volunteers by purchasing pre-wrapped diapers for distribution and partnered with new agencies that began distributing diapers and other basic needs into the community. In the past month distribution of diapers has more than doubled from last year to over 6,000 diapers a week. Yes, we agree, expansion is not happening quite as we had expected; but it is happening.
Enjoy this article by our friends from the Diaper Bank of Connecticut.
Calista Scott, Director
Opinion: State Diaper Bank in need of assistance
By Janet Stolfi Alfano
Published 12:00 am EDT, Wednesday, May 20, 2020 in the New Haven Register
For more than a year, we at the Diaper Bank of Connecticut had been carefully planning how to build critical infrastructure that will help us expand our reach in the state.
The need was clear: one in three Connecticut families struggles to afford diapers, which can cost more than $100 a month. Safety net programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and its Women, Infants and Children program don’t cover the costs of diapers, and babies in low-income families can spend a day or longer in a single diaper, leading to serious health and abuse risks.
With precious state funding allocated last year, we started on our way to bringing diapers to more families, something we’ve been striving to do for years. Because even as hard as we work, and as great as our agency partners are in helping us get diapers into communities, we haven’t been able to meet the growing need. Finally, we’ve begun on the path to expansion.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
As the world turned upside-down, families that previously were able (or barely able) to make ends meet now find themselves in dire need of diapers as unemployment soars and household budgets shrivel. Families that have long struggled to afford basic necessities now find it seemingly impossible to keep up with the barrage of expenses they face amid this fresh flood of financial uncertainty.
It’s a scary time for all of us, and particularly for parents and caregivers living near or below the poverty line. People who have never needed The Diaper Bank before are now turning to us for help.
So, we’ve shifted into overdrive. Between the end of February and early May, we bought three truckloads of diapers to distribute; that’s about 750,000 diapers. We are expediting our planned expansion roll-out, partnering with nonprofit agencies in areas of Connecticut we previously didn’t reach. And we continue to expand our online ordering capacity, buying as many diapers as we can.
These historic times have made even clearer what we already knew: the infrastructure needed to expand our services is essential. It involves more than just forming new partnerships with agencies that serve families in need, which in itself is a huge task. It also entails all of the logistics, how we actually get diapers into the hands of those who need them — a process that’s more complex than many people realize. It’s meaningful but challenging work.
But amid the despair and desperation we hear from families, and the frustrations that come with a faster-than-anticipated expansion, we’re heartened by the surge in support we’ve gotten from donors and would-be givers. Led by advocacy efforts of the National Diaper Bank Network, Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy and Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst are urging the U.S. Senate to support low-income families and front-line workers who urgently need diaper assistance during this pandemic.
On a local level, we hear from people every day — by phone, email and social media — who want to help. Often, they’re not sure how.
In typical times, we’re fortunate to have volunteers host diaper drives at offices, stores and other sites throughout our coverage area. These days, diaper drives are still doable, but only virtually. It’s also possible to make one-time or recurring monetary donations online at thediaperbank.org or by contacting our office.
Monetary donations are the best way donors can help our cause. With the money you donate, we are able to leverage our strategic partnerships to buy large quantities of diapers in the most cost-effective way. Donations don’t have to be huge to have a significant impact: $25 can provide a baby with a month’s supply of diapers; $100 can keep four babies in clean diapers for a month.
In these uncertain times, The Diaper Bank is forging ahead, growing our network to get more diapers to more families. Our families need us more than ever, and our work has never been more important. Expansion isn’t happening exactly the way we planned but it is happening, and for that we’re grateful. It’s been a long time coming.
To support The Diaper Bank of Connecticut, visit thediaperbank.org or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Janet Stolfi Alfano is executive director of The Diaper Bank of Connecticut, which is headquartered in North Haven.