Part of what we hope to do this year is bring you guys closer to the folks who are benefiting from all the diapers you raise. Back in December I received a desperate email from a social worker by the name of La Tanya.
La Tanya found us by chance. She picked up Parent’s Press, and saw our mention in it. She works with homeless families at the Center for the Vulnerable Child (CVC), run by Children’s Hospital of Oakland (CHO). You wouldn’t believe the lengths she has gone to obtain diapers. If you were in a situation where you needed a social worker, you’d want someone just like her.
So a few days before Christmas, with my car loaded with diapers, I went to visit La Tanya to learn more about the families the CVC serves.
What is a vulnerable child?
According to CVC, vulnerable children live in environments that may put them at risk for social, educational, physical, or mental health problems. Families facing poverty, unstable housing or substance abuse are just a few examples of vulnerable populations. They include homeless children, families in transition, and foster children.
CVC serves about 450 families annually all over the East Bay including Oakland, Berkeley, and Richmond. They even serve foster children who are living as far away as Stockton, since Medi-Cal rules dictate children must continue to receive care (e.g., go to the doctor, see a mental health therapist) in the county they originated from.
As it is with many social workers, diapers are like gold for La Tanya. In the past, she has had to rely on the kindness of personal friends who send gift cards so that she can purchase diapers for her clients. Diapers are so expensive in the Oakland inner city that in the past she has gone to the big box store to personally purchase diapers for her clients.
Some clients have admitted to her they sell their food stamps so they can afford diapers. Some of her clients have collected aluminum cans to redeem for money to purchase diapers and other hygiene needs. Some clients have admitted to reusing diapers. Many clients are reluctant to even talk about their need for diapers, because they fear agencies like Child Protective Services will take their children away. They are so scared, in fact, that they will neglect to mention it when they come to see the doctor at the free medical clinic.
When she doesn’t have diapers, La Tanya sends her families across town by bus. In west Oakland, St. Vincent de Paul’s distributes TWO diapers.
We’ve been able to make additional donations to the CVC due to the support from all of you guys. La Tanya and everyone at the CVC now have supplemental diapers they can give families who are struggling.
Big shout out to our Bay Area contributor, Janice, who has been managing the newest donation point at the Nurture Center in Lafayette and helping to shuttle diapers to places like CVC and WDDC! Thanks Janice!