Governor Brown Signs AB480 into Law

On October 12, 2017, Governor Brown signed AB480 into law. 

Help a Mother Out commends Assembly Member Gonzalez-Fletcher for her persistent efforts to include diapers in California’s safety net, and for her leadership in sponsoring AB480. Since 2009, Help a Mother Out has worked to address the unmet immediate need in the community and engaged in legislative advocacy for public policy solutions to end diaper need. We applaud Governor Brown for signing AB480 into law and look forward to additional counties joining San Francisco’s efforts to include diapers in the CalWORKs safety net.

Additional information about the legislation can be found through the following links:

 

Celebrating Diaper Need Awareness Week

We were excited to participate in the 2017 Diaper Need Awareness Week (September 25, 2017 to October 1, 2017). Diaper Need Awareness Week is a national initiative to make people aware that 1 in 3 American families struggle with diaper need -- meaning they do not have enough diapers to keep their babies clean, dry and healthy.

Help a Mother Out received three official proclamations in recognition of Diaper Need Awareness Week. A huge thank you to Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, and the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women for their proclamations.

HAMO staff members Nora Nicholson (fourth from right) and Anu Menon (third from left) with the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women.

HAMO staff members Nora Nicholson (fourth from right) and Anu Menon (third from left) with the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women.

HAMO and our Alameda partners also got a special DNAW treat  - a meeting with Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf as part of the official presentation of the DNAW proclamation. It was a great honor to talk to the Mayor about diaper need and hear about her passion for helping children and needy families in Oakland.

HAMO staff and our Oakland partners with the DNAW proclamation.

HAMO staff and our Oakland partners with the DNAW proclamation.

HAMO staff members Anu Menon (left), Nora Nicholson (center back), Lisa Truong (center front) and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf (right) with DNAW proclamation.

HAMO staff members Anu Menon (left), Nora Nicholson (center back), Lisa Truong (center front) and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf (right) with DNAW proclamation.

We are stronger together, and these proclamations demonstrate the dedication of Bay Area communities to work alongside Help a Mother Out in an effort to ensure that all families have access to the diapers they need. Every baby deserves a clean diaper.

Help a Mother Out Honors Jessica Bartholow with the 2017 Community Impact Award

Help a Mother Out was delighted to award Jessica Bartholow, Policy Advocate at the Western Center on Law and Poverty, with the Community Impact Award at our 2017 Annual Benefit Tea last weekend. Her acceptance speech, which so eloquently spoke to the issue of diaper need, is presented below.

"I’m so very honored to be honored today, not only for the recognition of my work but also because it comes from you - Help a Mother Out. Help a Mother Out is one of the most forward thinking Diaper Banks in the Country, developing model programs and strategies to meet unmet diaper need that are serving up ideas for the rest of the state and, in fact, the rest of the country. So thank you.

I’ve been asked to say a couple of words today about the problem of unmet diaper need and the work we are leading together as a community of people who want to protect those very special months following the birth of a child when important developmental goals of an infant and toddler will be met…or they won’t.

When a family is unable to afford the 8-12 diapers needed daily for an infant, they simply use fewer diapers, which means that babies will linger, uncomfortable and unhappy, for longer periods of time in diapers that contains urine and feces. Prolonged exposure to urine and fecal matter breaks down the natural defenses of the infant’s skin and resulting in a painful diaper rash. Without an adequate supply of diapers, a simple rash can turn in to a more complicated rash that requires medication. And, because poor children are already more likely to experience illness than other children, unmet diaper needs both increases the likelihood of illness and undermines one tool used to treat illness resulting in diarrhea or rash.

Unmet diaper needs don’t only impact the physical health of a child, but also their mental health and future potential. This is because parents who are unable to adequately diaper their children are more likely to experience maternal depression,   a condition associated with reduced maternal-child interaction known to undermine school readiness among poor children. 

 Lack of maternal interaction and infection isn’t the only danger to these infants and toddlers. 

Research has shown that children living in conditions where their basic needs go unmet not only experience depravity of not having those needs met, but are also deeply impacted by the toxic stress that results from chronically unmet needs.  Toxic stress is defined as a consistent, high level of stress which has the physiological impact of increased levels of cortisone, which leads to diet related disease, and structural impacts on their brain development. In my opinion, most cruel result of toxic stress for infants and toddlers is that, as brain researchers have found, it undermines the structure of the part of their brain that supports “coping” – one could argue is one of the most important skills they will need to grow up in poverty and to eventually exit it.

Finally, lack of adequate diaper supply can interrupt or prevent participation in early learning settings.  Most early learning childcare settings require families to bring their own diapers.  So even when the price of childcare is subsidized, a poor infant and toddlers may be kept from reaping the many benefits of participating in an early child education setting because their parents are unable to afford the number of diapers required by the center.     Consequently, when a family is unable to provide for the mandatory diapers required by the child care center, the parent(s) are also unable to participate in work or training programs to help them lift themselves out of poverty.

So much of what Help a Mother Out, and other similar organizations around the country, do is focused on a the logistics of getting diapers and diaper products into the hands and onto the tiny little chubby butts of infants and toddlers. This work is essential – it can interrupt the toxic stress low-income families experience. Adequate, regular access to diapers and diaper products not only prevent negative infant health impacts and related pain and suffering of babies – but they are an important paver bricks in the path out of poverty for these families with low-income families.

So today, as we celebrate the volunteers, staff and donors of Help a Mother Out, I hope all of us can be proud that this work is not just about covering the cute little heinies of Bay Area babies as they take their first steps but also protecting their life opportunities and each step along the way."

Jessica Bartholow is a Policy Advocate with nearly two decades of experience in anti-poverty organizing, advocacy and program development at the local, state and national level. Jessica has co-authored several advocate and program guides and led a coalition to support the passage of several pieces of signed legislation that improve public benefits delivery, consumer protections and financial empowerment for low-income Americans. Jessica holds a Master’s Degree in Political Science and is the 2012 recipient of the Wellstone -Wheeler National Anti-Hunger Advocate of the Year Award.

Our New Partnership with thredUP

As the mother of son who wears shorts 365 days a year, thredUP is a lifesaver. It’s my go-to place to buy high-quality, affordable summer clothing in the middle of winter, when other online retailers are selling fleece lined pants and parkas. So you can imagine how excited I (Anu) was to learn about the new partnership between thredUP and Help a Mother Out!

thredUP is one of the largest online consignment stores for women and children and, like HAMO, has been around since 2009. I had the opportunity to chat with Diana Rothschild, thredUP’s Director of Strategic Partnerships to learn about the company and this great opportunity.

According to Diana, “Seventy percent of items in a typical closet haven’t been worn in a year. thredUP helps women make their lives easier by thinking secondhand first and now they make it easy for them to turn their closets into cash for organizations like Help a Mother Out.”

 

Here’s how it works:  Have high-quality, new or gently used clothes that are taking up extra space in your closet? Want to turn those clothes into cash for HAMO? thredUP will send you a Donation Clean Out Kit (with $0 Service Fee and Free Shipping) with a prepaid mailing label. Fill it up and either schedule a pickup at your doorstep or drop it off at a USPS or FedEx store. thredUP will buy your bag from HAMO (so cash goes to HAMO!), and then process the bag (either adding the items to sell on their website or recycling the items sustainably) to cover their expenses. Clean closet = Clean diapers for low-income moms.

Diana is excited about the donation program, because it is one of the most convenient ways to turn clothes into cash for non-profits like HAMO. Cash means buying power for HAMO to purchase diapers in the sizes our partners need most! Win-Win.

Doesn’t Diana have a cool job? “My daughters like that I work at thredUP since they believe I can buy them clothes all the time!” Diana told me. In addition to running the donation program Diana manages recycling items sent to thredUP that can’t be added to the website, getting great inventory, and enhancing the supplier experience. “As a parent, there are not enough hours in the day to do everything I want to do. So I need a job where I love what I do and the people I’m doing it with. At thredUP, I’ve found a company of people that celebrate the whole self, work hard, and sees doing good as good for business.” And we are excited to partner with a company that celebrates the nonprofit community as well!

This is how the program works.

Help a Mother Out and order your Donation Clean Out Kit today. 

A Dirty Little Problem With a Clean Solution

Composting Diapers Is An Environmentally Responsible Method With No Impact 

by Mark Siminoff

It’s hard to believe that something the size of a sack of flour could generate a mountain of waste. But every year in the United States babies produce more than 18 billion diapers that are thrown into landfills.

This struck me hard when I became a parent 10 years ago. My wife and I welcomed a beautiful baby boy into the world along with a houseful of gadgets and disposable products, aka. “brandfill”. Every week we deposited heaps of diapers and wipes into our garbage and boxed up toys and gizmos he’d outgrown.

By the time we had our second child I realized just how much waste — particularly poopy diapers — we generate. It really got to me. While providing your baby with a diaper is not optional, the lifecycle of that product once it leaves his/her behind is. Surely there has to be a more environmentally responsible way to diaper, I thought. So began my research and a frustrating finding: Every diapering product — be it plastic, cloth, or semi‐compostable — is a consumption of natural resources, whether it’s gallons of water for laundering or acres of landfill for disposal.

Proponents of cloth diapers claim it’s better for the earth and baby to wash and dry nappies. Disposable users rave that plastic diapers are more convenient, absorbent and don’t require the use of water or detergents. Several name brand manufacturers have introduced bio‐degradable diapers or hybrid diaper consisting of a cloth cover with a disposable/flushable layer. But both still end up in the landfill.

While all sides of the debate make compelling arguments, the reality is they are not perfect and nor are their studies. Most of the published studies have been sponsored by factions from within the diaper industry. Not surprisingly the findings always support those parties that paid for it. A study by Franklin Associates in 1990 was funded by the American Paper Institute and showed disposable diapers to be better. 

A study by Lehrberger & Jones in 1991 was funded by the National Association of  Diaper Services and favored cloth diapering. A rare independent perspective was published in 2005 when London’s Environment Agency conducted a study to evaluate the impact of disposable versus cloth diapers. It found no clear winner or loser.

“There was no significant difference between any of the environmental impacts – that is, overall no system clearly had a better or worse environmental performance,” authors concluded in the report titled Life Cycle Assessment of Disposable Nappies in the UK .

As I watched my babies’ diapers being trucked out to the landfill each week, I started brainstorming an inconceivable idea: composting, a controlled natural process where yeasts, fungi and bacteria aerobically digest organic compounds turning it into dirt. When done properly composting produces little or no methane gas, destroys all pathogens, and yields rich, safe soil. What if we could turn something foul into a usable, salable product?

I first learned about composting when I was a little kid. I was at Pete Seeger’s — yes, the folk singer — house in Beacon, N.Y. and he had a composting toilet. It left such an impression on me that 30 plus years later I reflected on it as a possible solution to the diapering dilemma. I began looking for places to buy and compost diapers in the United States only to find that no such product or service existed here. 

I discovered a company in Sweden that makes compostable diapers that look and feel like disposable ones and are non‐toxic. I also found a space in the South Bay to compost the waste. My business plan went something like this: We’d drop off a batch of compostable diapers to a customer’s doorstep, pick up the dirty nappies, and drop them at the compost facility where they’d be turned to dirt, which would be used commercially.

EarthBaby started in September 2008 with 17 families in and around Mountain View. For 12 weeks, my business partners and I drove around in my personal pickup truck one morning each week dropping off and picking up diapers. After the beta program every single family continued using our service.

Eight years later we are expanding our footprint. My dream is to revolutionize diapering in the US and ultimately worldwide by composting diapers instead of disposing of them in landfills. While there are no simple solutions to most of our environmental problems, care and consideration at every step from the first to the last, is crucial to providing a healthy planet for our children.

About the author:

Mark Siminoff is the founder of EarthBaby, LLC. Prior to EarthBaby, Mark was a manager and mechanical engineer at the global product design firm IDEO. After the birth of his two children he was shocked at the volume of diaper waste that accumulated each week. That coupled with the awareness that the products he had dedicated his previous career to developing were only serving to exacerbate the landfill issues spurred the creation of EarthBaby, a compostable diapering service.

EarthBaby is a long term supporter of Help a Mother Out and a sponsor of the 2016 Let Good Grow Tea.

 

 

Creating a Better Breast Pump

Motherhood can be such a joyful experience. The breast pumps that go along with motherhood are quite the opposite. In fact, I’ve never met a mom who didn’t loathe her breast pump. As a mom to three young boys, pumping was a constant struggle for me as well; it was loud, painful, and so clunky that it made it a hassle to lug it around. Plus, when I returned to work full-time, I couldn’t find a pump that could easily facilitate pumping outside of the home. I often found myself wondering how everything else around me was improving and becoming more technologically advanced, but the one device that millions of women rely on was stuck in the archaic design of the mid-nineteenth century. Shouldn’t it be better than this by now? 

I relayed my frustrations to my husband, Jeff, who is an engineer. One night, he took apart my breast pump in the garage, looked at how it was constructed, and realized things could be built in a better way—a much better way, actually. Jeff was limited with the improvements he could make that night because the breast pump’s technology uses outdated technology. If we were going to make an efficient pump that is also comfortable and well designed, we needed to start from scratch. We started by redesigning the breast pump from the inside out. As a result, Naya is completely unique in its mechanics and makes pumping feel more like nursing a baby, rather than a painful, loud machine. The difference is that it uses a hydraulic, water-based system, which leads to a much more comfortable and quiet pumping experience. We also went a step further to incorporate smart technology into the pump that automatically tracks pumping sessions and the amount of milk expressed. It then takes this information and sends it to the Naya smartphone app along with expert tips for moms. My goal was to give mothers one less thing to have to keep track of. 

Traditional pumps I had used were bulky, making it a burden to haul it around outside of the home. That’s why with Naya, I wanted the design to be sleek and compact. There are fewer parts to store (or misplace!) because of the pump design, and when it’s all packed up, one can’t tell that it is even a breast pump because of the stylish design.

Lastly, I’ve been grateful to have the support of an expert advisory health and tech team. It’s what makes Naya Health possible. I work with a group of renowned physicians, lactation experts, and healthcare technologists who have joined me on this journey to help moms.  

We believe that all mothers deserve better, smarter, and more supportive solutions. In the months and years ahead, we look forward to introducing more products that make their lives easier and more pleasant. 

Janica Alvarez

CEO Naya Health and Mom of 3

Naya Health is a sponsor of the 2016 Let Good Grow Tea.

Got Bags?

Ever finish a conference or trade show and find that you over-ordered the swag? Wondering what to do with all those tote bags that have outdated info or messaging?

Let us help!

We are currently on the lookout for corporate in-kind donations of any type of reusable bags. We’ll be giving these bags to mothers to help them carry packages of diapers. And we’re not picky – we don’t mind branding or logos on the bags. We just want to give your old bags the chance to do good, and give parents some help carrying their things. Let’s get that swag back into action!

If you or your company is interested in clearing out overstock and donating it to our cause, let us know! Please contact Nora by calling 415-938-6667 or by emailing nora@helpamotherout.org.

Annual Tea: ScholarShare helps parents take the first steps

It seems that every time I turn around, there is another story on the news about college tuition prices going up, or on student loans reaching the trillion dollar mark. I, myself, am one of those who have more student debt than I care to admit. That’s why, if and when my daughter decides to go to college, I want to make sure we have a plan.

This year, we were delighted to have ScholarShare’s support as a Tea Stand Sponsor at our Annual Benefit Tea held on April 25th in San Francisco. We are excited to be partnering with ScholarShare – not only are we happy to get the word out to our supporters about the importance of saving for college, but we, too, have been inspired by talking with Garianne Dashiell, a TIAA-CREF consultant. True story – after talking with Garianne, both Lisa and Anna are ready to sign up!

 

I (Anna) was fortunate enough to spend some time talking with Garianne before the Tea. Full disclosure: I was a little intimidated about talking to an investment consultant. I’m no pro when it comes to money management, and I’m certainly out of my element when it comes to investing. But Garianne said this is one of the best parts of her job: helping to break down the misconceptions parents have about investing for college.

“As the mom of a college freshman, I know what it feels like to wonder where the money for college is going to come from,” said Garianne. That’s one of the reasons she does what she does: it feels important to her to get the word out to as many parents as she can that planning is possible and it’s relatively easy.

TIAA-CREF Consultant Garianne Dashiell

How easy, you ask? Color me surprised: To open a 529 account, all you need is $25. *That’s it.* That’s less than a week’s worth of my morning coffee indulgence. That’s less than half a tank of gas. That’s a dinner out with a friend.

That’s pretty easy.

And that’s all you need each month – a minimum of $25 to put towards your child’s college education. I’m not saying I don’t love my morning coffee, but when I weigh it against my daughter’s education? Well, college wins every time.

Another great feature of the ScholarShare plan is that other people can gift into it. Grandparents or aunts and uncles or friends can choose to contribute to your child’s 529 in lieu of gifting your household with tiny plastic toys that you step on in your bare feet. (Legos hurt, AmIRite?) Garianne told me the story of a baby she knew whose young, getting-on-their-feet parents asked for 529 contributions for his first birthday, rather than gifts. When all was said and done, that toddler had over $1000 to invest in his college education. By the time he was one! That’s impressive stuff.

Thanks so much to Garianne and ScholarShare for investing in Help a Mother Out, so that we can continue empowering moms through our life changing diaper program.

If you’re interested in learning more about ScholarShare, you can check out their website at scholarshare.com. And be sure to note that this coming May 29th is 529 Day, and Scholarshare will match your $50 contribution to a new Scholarshare account with $50 of their own. Or, if you want to talk to Garianne, she says “Call me! I’d love to chat. You can reach me 415-882-3626 or gdashiell@tiaa-cref.org.”

Mother’s Day Portraits To Help Moms

Los Angeles photographer and owner of Litetrap Studios, Michael Murphree, has offered Mother’s Day-themed mini sessions as a priceless gift for the moms in your life with all proceeds going to support Help a Mother Out’s efforts in Los Angeles.



Portrait by Michael Murphree

For a donation of $100, up to 20 mothers and their children will receive a 15-minute portrait session on May 17, two 5 x 7 prints, and a custom Facebook timeline photo.

Michael Murphree has 20 years of experience as a commercial and celebrity photographer, starting his career as apprentice to world-famous photographer Annie Leibovitz. It was when Michael had his own family that he fell in love with photographing his wife and twin babies. This led to the creation of Litetrap Studios, where Michael takes joy in capturing the special moments in other families’ lives with the goal of creating cherished heirlooms that pass on through generations.

The mini-sessions are available to up to 20 mothers and their children, and children of any age. Want a priceless memory of you with your own mother? This is a wonderful opportunity to have a true artist create a portrait of you, and help another mother out at the same time.

Studio space is generously provided by Books and Cookies, a bookstore and play space in Santa Monica.

To reserve your sitting appointment or to arrange for one as a gift to that special mom in your life on Mother’s Day, make your donation here.

Mother’s Day Mini-Sessions with Michael Murphree
May 17, 2015
Books and Cookies
2309 Main Street
Santa Monica, CA 90405
To purchase click here
For more information please contact Kim Tracy Prince at kim@helpamotherout.org

Q&A with Modern Table’s Moms-in-Charge

As a working parent, meal time is inevitably a challenge. It requires planning, preparation, and shopping on the weekends (I have nightmares about the lines at Costco on a Sunday). Even when I’m prepped and planned, my 2-year old can dissolve into a full-on hunger meltdown before I have time to warm up some food.

You can imagine my excitement, then, when I learned about Modern Table Meals. This year, Modern Table Meals has partnered with us by signing on as our Tea Pot sponsor at the upcoming Let Good Grow Tea, coming up Saturday, April 25th. They’ll be joining us at the event, and if you’ll be in attendance, we’ll have some goodies for you, courtesy of our friends at Modern Table.

Moms-in-charge Gulbin Hoeberechts and Jennifer Eiseman both worked in consumer packaged goods before starting Modern Table Meals. We were lucky enough to chat with them recently – check out their thoughts on running a business, women in leadership, and helping moms out.

Jennifer Eiseman & Gulbin Hoeberechts

On the motivation to start Modern Table:

Jennifer: My cooking skills are less than stellar and my kids don’t seem to like anything healthy (help!) – hence, [I had a] personal need for healthy, yummy, easy-to-make meals!

Gulbin: I am a working mom. I am not particularly good at cooking. I have little time, yet I want to give my family nutritious, delicious food they will eat (even my picky one!). When dinner is done I want to feel good. Easy to say, hard to do, especially when you have to do it every day. So, the mission behind Modern Table Meals is to make it easy to get healthy, yummy meals on the table at any time. No barriers.

On partnering with Help A Mother Out:

Jennifer: As a working mom of three, I know how much help moms need. If getting essentials, like diapers, gives moms more time to do things like making meals for their family, I am in!

Gulbin: They say that “it takes a village,” and it is so true. The idea behind Modern Table was helping moms out during mealtime. We also want to help moms out in a broader way, and when we discovered Help A Mother Out, it felt like an exciting match!

On women in leadership roles:

Jennifer: Mothers inherently make great leaders because that’s what we do: we lead our families. At Modern Table, we take those skills and amplify them in the business world, while still respecting the time it takes to be a mom. Flexible work schedules and locations lead to healthy, happy moms, and those moms can change the world.

Gulbin: I find that women carry a lot of responsibilities on their shoulders. Empowering women is essential. We are passionate about women and empowering them with easy, effective tools so they can excel. We understand women can be better leaders if they can have balance, so we create an environment to support that and help each other out.

On the craziest meal idea they’ve ever had:

Jennifer: A meal that does the dishes for me. (Editor’s Note: AMEN SISTER!)

Gulbin: My picky little guy does not eat meat protein, but loves yogurt on everything. I bought a Vitamix to totally dissolve chicken in yogurt to make a sauce [he would eat.] The lengths we go to . . .

The Modern Table Meals team

Thanks to Modern Table Meals for spending time with us, and for their upcoming support of Let Good Grow, HAMO’s 5th Annual Benefit Tea. You can check out Modern Table’s four tasty meal options, and learn more about their company, by visiting moderntablemeals.com. You can also find them on Facebook by visiting facebook.com/moderntablemeals.

A.B. 717: CA Sales Tax Exemption for Diapers

Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez et al.  has just introduced A.B. 717 into the California State Legislature. The bill would allow for a sales tax exemption with regard to diapers for infants and toddlers. This is an important step in recognizing diapers as a basic human need. We wholly support this legislation.

Special thanks to Asm. Gonzalez and her co-authors for their leadership in introducing this important piece of legislation. You can find the bill here.

We urge our California community of supporters to contact your Assembly Member and State Senator to express your support of A.B. 717. Find your State Legislators here.

Giving Tuesday Challenge Match: EBay Foundation

It’s #GivingTuesday and we are thrilled to announce that EBay Inc. Foundation has generously offered to match your gift today, dollar for dollar, up to $2,500. Click to GIVE.

“Natalie was living in a trailer and did not have enough money for diapers. She was forced to use folded shirts. She was embarrassed to go to her baby’s doctor. After she received diaper assistance, she overcame her fear of going out in public with her child.”

– Beth, Social Worker

Our goal before the end of March 2015 is to distribute over 250,000 diapers to low-income families. Bottom line: even by the truckload, diapers cost money. We do this because our diaper program changes lives. Our friends at EBay, Inc. Foundation recognize the important work that we do and we know that YOU do to. Please consider this matching opportunity your chance to do a little extra good on #GivingTuesday. GIVE NOW.

Thank you for your amazing support of our mission!

Book @UrbanSitter + help a mother

Our friends @UrbanSitter has been long time supporters of our cause and we are excited to announce a new partnership with them.

Need a babysitter for after school or date nights?

Enjoy a free trial from our friends at UrbanSitter, a website and app designed to help Bay Area families find trusted babysitters and nannies.

When you book your first sitter using code GIVEHAMO15, Help a Mother Out will receive a $20 donation from UrbanSitter and you get your first booking for FREE.

Sign up & get UrbanSitter discount >>

Many of us at HAMO currently use UrbanSitter to find trustworthy babysitters and we’re excited to bring this opportunity to our community.

This offer is for new UrbanSitter clients only. If you already use UrbanSitter’s app, you can still help moms by telling your network of parents about this awesome offer.

Diaper Need & Public Policy, Oct 15th @ Berkeley

Join the Conversation

Diaper Need & Public Policy Panel Discussion

5:30pm Check-in, Wine & Cheese Reception

6-7pm Panel Discussion

The David Brower Center, 2150 Allston Way, Tamalpais Room, Berkeley, CA 94704

The Problem

One in three families struggle with diaper need. For families and babies who lack affordable access to diapers, there are severe health and social consequences. Consider:

  • SNAP (food stamps) and WIC do not cover diapers.
  • Insufficient diaper supply is a significant risk factor for poor infant and child health, as well as for maternal mental health (Pediatrics, 2013).
  • Disposable diapers are required to attend most subsidized childcare programs. When a family lacks access to diapers, they miss opportunities for work, school or job training.

Solutions

Join us for the Bay Area’s first-ever panel discussion on nonprofit and governmental options for addressing diaper need in California. The program includes speakers familiar with the “Unmet Diaper Need Act” introduced in 2014 in the California Legislature, San Francisco’s forthcoming diaper voucher program for families receiving Temporary Aid to Needy Families, as well as child poverty experts and leaders from the diaper bank community.

Moderator

Anat Shenker, ASO Communications

Panelists

  • Alysia Cox, Fellow (Safety Net Team), Women’s Policy Institute, Women’s Foundation of California
  • Dan Kelly, Director of Planning, San Francisco Human Services Agency
  • Jane Mauldon, Associate Professor, Goldman School of Public Policy, U.C. Berkeley
  • Lisa Truong, Founder & Executive Director, Help a Mother Out
  • Alison Weir, J.D., Director of Programs & Policy, National Diaper Bank Network

Space is limited. Reserve your spot!

Update on AB 1516

I want to thank all of our supporters who sent tweets, emails, and phone calls of support to the CA Senate Appropriations Committee this past month. Last Thursday, August 14th, the Committee held AB 1516 in suspense. This means the bill did not make it out of committee.

While we are disappointed AB 1516 did not make it to Governor Brown’s desk, we are uplifted by your incredible support of the bill and our work to get much needed diapers to vulnerable children and families.

All is not lost. Together with YOU, we raised awareness on diaper need, both at the State Capitol and nationally. No other statehouse in the country has EVER discussed the social and economic barriers that vulernable families face as a result of diaper need. The fact that California legislators had the opportunity to consider the bill represents incredible progress. Local and national media outlets covered the bill, including the Los Angeles TimesHuffington PostSacramento BeeThe NationTalk Poverty, and Think Progress (among others).

What’s next? The bill’s author, Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez (D-80, San Diego) intends to reintroduce the bill in 2015. We plan to work closely with her office to support the bill next legislative year. Of course, we will keep you updated on ways you can help in the future.

We are proud to have engaged legislators, from both sides of the aisle on this crucial issue. We are even more proud that YOU are a part of our grassroots network of supporters. Thank you for your advocacy and support.

How you can support AB 1516

Today, you and I have the opportunity to improve the well being of California’s most needy babies and their families, by increasing their access to diapers. California Assembly Bill 1516 (Gonzalez D-80), aka The Diaper Act, will be heard before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Monday August 4th. This “Little Bill That Could” has already passed two Assembly Committees, an Assembly floor vote, and the Senate Human Services Committee. In the last few months we’ve been working hard behind the scenes with fellow advocates to support the bill. I testified in April and our board chair, Allison, will testify at the August hearing. The bill has been well received at the Capitol and our dream is to send it to Governor Brown’s office. First, we need to get it out of Senate Appropriations on August 4th.

What will AB 1516 do? AB 1516 would provide an additional $80 monthly supplement for children 0-2 years, who are living in CalWORKs-assisted households. It would ensure that parents can meet their children’s diapering needs in order to access childcare, work and job training. It is the FIRST and ONLY statehouse proposal in the nation that offers a large-scale solution to address the diapering needs of our most vulnerable children. Remember, diapers cost on average of $75-$100/month. That’s a lot of dough when you are struggling. In the last 5 years we’ve shared heartbreaking stories about moms choosing to forego food in order to buy diapers, moms missing work/school and children denied early learning opportunities because of a lack of diapers.

Alysia (WPI Fellow), Shelby (witness), Jenny (WPI Fellow), Anna (HAMO), & Caroline (LA Diaper Drive) at the Capitol in June.

This 2-minute video was produced by a few graduate students in Stanford’s d.school’s course Design Thinking and Public Policy. Shout out to Sarah and the entire class!

Diaper Shortages Leave Low-Income Kids Behind Before They Can Even Walk

This post originally appeared at TalkPoverty.org and is reposted with permission.

Ask a county social worker, a food bank director, or any organization that assists families in low-income communities, and you will likely learn that they all experience a similar predicament each month. They do not have enough diapers. Diapers are the most requested basic need item, and organizations always run out.

Unmet diaper needs impact families’ ability to work and the public health of the communities where they live. Because diapers are required by most child care facilities, lack of diapers can reduce access to work and poor diapering can facilitate the spread of disease in public spaces.

According to The Diaper Bank, an adequate supply of diapers cost $100 or more per month. Making things worse, safety net programs such as TANF, SNAP and WIC do not allot money for diapers. Benefits themselves are already low. In California, the maximum TANF benefit—which provides cash assistance—is no more than 40% of the federal poverty level (around $670 per month for a family of three). According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, there isn’t a state in the country with a TANF benefit higher than ½ of the federal poverty line. To get by, families report diapering less. Some even report that their infants or toddlers have spent a day or longer in one diaper, which not only leads to potential health risks for the baby, but also puts them at risk for social, emotional and behavioral problems, according to aPediatrics study.

Here in California, there are eleven diaper banks that are part of the National Diaper Bank network. Meeting the unmet diaper needs of very young children with donated diapers is their business, and they too report shortages on a regular basis and admit to covering only a small percentage of the state.

This is what I learned when I started advocating in support of a bill introduced in California this year by Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez and Senator Holly Mitchellto address the growing unmet need among poor families with infants and toddlers. The idea that we need legislation to address unmet diaper needs usually gets a chuckle out of most people at first. However, the grim reality is that a lack of an adequate supply of diapers can have severe mental, emotional, and developmental impacts on parents and children. In response, Assembly Bill 1516 would provide an $80 per month diaper supplement to eligible children receiving public assistance and would create a public-private partnership fund to help facilitate the distribution of financial donations and diaper contributions to the neediest of families.

My work on the bill is through the Women’s Policy Institute (WPI) at the Women’s Foundation of California. The WPI trains women about how the legislative process works and how to advocate for legislative change. Since I am a single mom who knows how costly it can be to keep an infant adequately diapered and how difficult it can be to try to figure it out on your own, I am motivated to make the most of this opportunity. Still, I am most inspired by the personal stories and the sense of how real policy decisions can impact real people’s lives.

A mother I know who has three little girls is one of these real people whose story has inspired me. She was working several jobs, but was still living under the poverty line and receiving just over $100 a month in TANF assistance, when extra hours at work and $20 more in her paycheck made her ineligible for the TANF program.

She lacked job security at her hourly jobs, and the loss of the income from TANF left her family on unstable footing. As a result, she struggled to meet her children’s basic needs. She told me about how she forced her children to potty train way before they were ready to save money and about her feelings of being overwhelmed with stress during this period in her family’s life.

Throughout the legislative session, the team of advocates working on this bill has heard other powerful testimonies about the consequences for children when parents are unable to make it through the end of each month without reusing lightly soiled diapers or prolonging periods between diaper changes.

I don’t know if Assembly Bill 1516 will pass and, if it gets passed, if it would get signed. But I hope that its introduction has helped to educate lawmakers in our state’s Capitol about the great risks associated with deep poverty and unmet diaper needs and to inspire them to do something about it.  I also know that bills like this one, which tackle the real needs of real people and real policy solutions, are desperately needed from Sacramento to Albany and in every state capitol in between.  Until we confront the human and fiscal costs associated with allowing children to live in deep poverty and the deep inequities that start at birth, our poorest children will be hampered by unequal footing before they even learn to walk.

Alysia Cox is a single mother (of a five-year-old) and dedicated advocate for low-income families. She currently serves as a Community Development Commissioner for the city of Richmond, California. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from The University of California, Davis. She is also a 2013-14 Women’s Policy Institute Fellow through the Women’s Foundation of California. 

Diaper Drive: State Capitol #Sacramento June 9-27th

Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez is hosting a diaper drive at the State Capitol in Sacramento from June 9 – 27th. Diapers collected will be distributed to local families in need through the River City Food Bank. 

WHY: Get diapers to Sacramento families in need and raise awareness on A.B. 1516.

DONATE: Diapers (all sizes welcome, sizes 4-6 especially)*

WHERE: Drop-off Diaper Donations at Capitol Office of Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez State Capitol – Room 5158

*All diaper donations will be matched by Help a Mother Out, up to 5,000 diapers.

You can help spread the word to local Sacramento folks. Forward this blog post ordownload/print the flyer.

Support for the drive is a joint collaboration between Gonzalez’s office, the Safety Net team at theWomen’s Policy Institute and Help a Mother Out.

Thank you for making a difference!