A little more than a year ago HAMO started as a one-off drive to bring diapers to homeless families. We had no idea diapers were such a scarce commodity for families in need or that there were organizations such as diaper banks. The number one reason why we decided to let HAMO spread it’s wings was because we felt that it is critical to raise awareness of this issue and advocate for the inclusion of diapers in the safety net. Little did we know at the time that there was already a coalition forming to address this very goal.
On April 30, 2010, HAMO had the unique opportunity to attend theColloquium on Diaper Rights, Health, Hygiene, and Public Policy, sponsored by The Diaper Bank, Yale Law School, and the law firmWiggin and Dana, LLP.
The working session was really the first of it’s kind, bringing together state and federal government officials, members of several professions (lawyers, doctors, public health, social workers), public relations and industry representatives, academics, as well as advocates from various organizations dedicated to issues concerning women, children, and families.
Organizations represented at the colloquium include the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (check out their post here), the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Children’s Defense Fund, Prevent Child Abuse America, the National Center for Law and Economic Justice, National Center for Children in Poverty, SEIU, Yale School of Public Health, Yale Law School, The Diaper Bank of Southern Arizona,Westside Baby, et. al
As you can see from this partial list, HAMO was, by far, the rookie organization of the group. I spent the entire day pretending I was a law student, soaking up information from the incredible discussions.
We started off talking about about the safety net, welfare, well being, and rights. Later, childhood poverty, women’s rights, and public health. We talked about transforming public policy and how crucial collaboration is across disciplines and organizations. We talked about grassroots advocacy, building a support network. During the panel I served on we talked about ways we could engage the public through both new and traditional forms of media Yes, Twitter was discussed. Along with Facebook. And Ashton Kutcher. We ended the day with a discussion on how we can work together to legislate change to include diapers in the safety net.
My big take away from the day was this: Addressing the immediate crisis and raising awareness is crucial. Working to change the policy is equally important and will require a unified effort not only across state lines but also across digital ones. If we can do this, we’ll increase opportunities not only for the women, children, and families, but also for our communities.
We want to hear from you. From where you stand, what do you think it is going to take to change the public policy?