SAN FRANCISCO 1ST CITY TO OFFER PUBLIC ASSISTANCE FOR DIAPERS San Francisco Diaper Bank to assist CalWORKs families with young children.
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.
Slidelane is a resource for new parents to find, share and recommend the best places and services in their neighborhood. Listings on the site include sleep training consultants, music classes, meal delivery services and family-friendly restaurants. It’s a brand new site and the co-founders are new advocates of Help A Mother Out. For that, we are extremely grateful.
From Tuesday, February 11 through Friday, February 14, Slideline will be donating diapers to families in need. Each new sign up results in 25 diapers donated in your honor.
Registering for access to Slidelane involves no commitment or cost and only takes two minutes. Help spread the love!
Our co-founder Lisa Truong appeared on the KTVU evening news today to talk about diaper need in light of the Pediatrics magazine study announcement. We are grateful for the chance to address the work we do for a wider audience. Thank you to everyone who has come to this site today looking for more information about our mission.
If you need help getting diapers, contact one of our partner agencies near you, or dial 2-1-1 to find out about local services.
How can you help?
If you believe that children deserve to have their basic needs met, then we need you on our team.
Get to know us: we invite you to get to know more about our work. You can start by reading up on the Real Stories from moms who have been helped through our diaper program.
Donate: make the change by helping us get diapers into the hands of moms and young children. Your investment helps empower families and enables us to continue our program. Click here to donate online.
Start a fundraiser: Are you ready to do something greater than yourself? Do you want to amplify your impact by raising mission critical funds for the cause? Learn more about hosting an online fundraiser.
Bring us diapers: we accept new and opened packs of disposable diapers at drop locations in many areas. Click here and scroll down to see where your closest one is.
Host a diaper drive: there is bound to be a service organization in your community that works directly with people who need diapers. Rally your friends, neighbors, and family to donate diapers or funds by holding your own diaper drive.
Join our mission to change lives one diaper at a time.
Clover By Clover’s generous support of our 3rd Annual Benefit Tea last month certainly made our meaningful celebration that much more so. Thank you!
Clover by Clover is a service that helps you take back the birthday party. Or the holiday. Or the graduation. Or the [insert celebration]. Take it back from the 1,000-piece toys that your relatives insist on giving the children. Take it back from the cheap plastic crap you already have too much of! Take it back from having your kids get more stuff that may quickly get broken, outgrown, or tossed into the “donate” pile.
Now you can set up a fundraiser for any special occasion that will benefit a worthy cause. Clover By Clover helps you facilitate it, and you can specify the cause and the amount that will be sent to them.
For example – for your son’s 9th birthday, instead of gifts, you ask friends and family to make a donation to the Clover By Clover page you set up to benefit, say, Help a Mother Out, or one of their other fine charity partners. At the end of the donation period, he has raised $400. He keeps a percentage of that money to spend or save, and the other part goes to the charity.
Founders Erin Aliaga and Betsy Ellis Chung started Clover By Clover because they thought that the latter scenario was preferable to “seeing stacks of toys at parties for children who really didn’t need (or even want) more.” They wanted to “make gifts more meaningful and celebrations more thoughtful.”
A kind act happened recently at a Walmart in Loveland.
While a young couple was counting their money to see if they had enough to pay for diapers for their young daughter, another couple who were strangers offered to pay for them. The strangers paid for the diapers and everything in the cart, explaining that people have helped them and they were just paying it forward.
This random act of kindness and help from strangers prompted the young couple to share this story with the local news in hopes of spreading the word. A simple gesture can mean so much to other people, so let’s pay it forward!
Have you paid it forward? Or experienced a pay it forward moment?
We are delighted to announce that Help a Mother Out has been selected to become a NDBN Affiliate Partner for the San Francisco Bay Area. The following is NDBN’s press release. Thank you to each and everyone who has helped support this work.
The National Diaper Bank Network is pleased to announce the NDBN Affiliate Partnership Program. The NDBN Affiliate Partnership Program is designed to create a robust national network of diaper banks, which distribute diapers to families in need through social service agencies. NDBN will assist these Partners to even better address diaper need in their areas by providing targeted assistance to allow the selected partners to concentrate on infrastructure, development, and other organizational priorities that will lead to increased sustainability and growth.
Diapers cannot be purchased with food stamps, formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“SNAP”) or the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance for Women Infants and Children (“WIC”). As a result, families in need must draw on their own limited funds to buy diapers which may cost as much as $100 or more each month. Diaper banks provide families assistance with this basic need for babies and toddlers. According to the National Center on Children in Poverty, 3 million American children under 3 years old live in poverty, most of whom wear diapers. At a rate of six diapers per day, diaper-wearing children in poverty in U.S. need over 6.7 billion diapers a year to stay dry and healthy.
“Diaper banks are essential organizations. Because they are often grass roots movements starting out of someone’s kitchen or church basement, they are also often vulnerable ones, without secure funding or the staff time to develop new resources,” explains Alison Weir, director of programs at NDBN. “By providing diaper banks with a reliable supply of diapers and targeted technical assistance, we support them as they become stronger and more sustainable to allow them to meet the needs of more low-income families.”
Through an application process, NDBN selected Regional Partners, Community Partners, and Feeding America affiliated Food Bank Partners to participate. These programs were selected based on demonstrated ability to distribute diapers through a large network of agencies and potential for growth. Thanks to a generous donation of diapers from NDBN’s founding sponsor Huggies®, each Partner will receive a large and assured supply of diapers that will allow it to concentrate on infrastructure, development, and other organizational priorities that will support increased sustainability and growth.
NDBN is proud to announce its new Affiliate Partners:
NDBN Regional partners
- Diaper Bank of Southern Arizona, Tucson, AZ
- Happy Bottoms, Kansas City, MO
- HRPCH, San Antonio, TX
- LA Diaper Bank, Santa Monica, CA
- The Diaper Bank, North Haven, CT
- Westside Baby and Eastside Baby Corner (Joint), Seattle, WA
NDBN Community Partners
- A Small Hand, Edinburg, VA
- Arkansas Rice Depot, Little Rock, AR
- Bundle of Joy/Diaper Depot (Joint), Chicago area, IL
- Capital Diaper Bank, Richmond, VA
- Captain Hope’s Kids, Dallas, TX
- DC Diaper Bank, Washington, DC
- Help A Mother Out, San Francisco, CA
- Homeward Bound Diaper Drive, Phoenix, AZ
- Junior League of Boca Raton Diaper Bank, Boca Raton, FL
- Midland Community Diaper Bank, Midland, MI
- Piedmont Diaper Bank, Winston-Salem, NC
- Sacramento Foodbank & Family Services, Sacramento, CA
- The Diaper Train, Raleigh, NC
- Tri-Cities Diaper Bank, Richmond, WA
- World Vision, Phillipi, WV
NDBN Food Bank Partners
- Atlanta Community Food Bank, Atlanta, GA
- Food Bank of Northern Indiana, South Bend, IN
- Food Bank of the Rockies, Denver, CO
- North Texas Food Bank, Dallas, TX
- Treasure Coast Food Bank, Fort Pierce, FL
About the National Diaper Bank Network
The National Diaper Bank Network (NDBN) is a formed national nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring that every child in the United States has an adequate supply of diapers to remain clean, dry and healthy. Its mission is to raise awareness of diaper need and to build the capacity of diaper banks throughout the country by creating a national network of community partners. For more information please visit www.nationaldiaperbanknetwork.org.
This coming week some of the team will be at BlogHer ’11.
In case you haven’t heard, we’re hosting a service project to coincide with the conference, in hopes of raising much needed diaper funds we’d like to raise to benefit our Southern California families. Specifically, we have three agencies located in San Diego, Inland Empire, and east Los Angeles, who are currently on the waiting list to receive diapers.
Whether you are attending the conference or not, you can help us make a difference.
Bonus: We’re giving away an iPad, generously donated by our friends at Momversation, to one lucky online donor. And as of this writing, your chances look really good to win!
How you can help:
Your online gift of $10 or more enters you to our iPad giveaway contest. Go ahead, click the BLUE button and help a mother out!
Updated 4/21/11: A little bird told us that LHJ will be on CBS The Talk on Tuesday, April 26 talking about Mother’s Day – and they will feature HAMO in their segment! Yes, Virginia – HAMO will be mentioned for the first time on a daytime talk show! Check your local listings…
A big HUG to Ladies Home Journal for giving us a shout out in their latest issue, May, 2011. Yep, we are on page 160 (the last page!), where LHJ encourages their readers to honor Mother’s Day with acontribution to HAMO!
We’re deeply honored for the unexpected shout out, LHJ.
Shout out to Oakland North for recently covering HAMO and our incredible donation from Huggies Every Little Bottom program.
The donation was distributed this past month to three partner agencies including our dear friends at St. Vincent de Paul of Alameda County, Homeless Prenatal Program, and San Francisco’s Bayview Mission.
From Oakland North:
“A young woman showed up at St. Vincent de Paul’s Women’s Center in downtown Oakland a few months ago after leaving the husband who had been beating her. She had newborn twins, a child who hadn’t yet turned two, and nothing else—no clothes, no money and none of the items needed to take care of babies.
“I explained we could find her a safe place to stay and I gave her diapers for the next week,” says Sonia Muñoz, the assistant manager of the Women’s Center, a daytime drop-in center offering free programs and services for women and children. The young woman broke down crying. She fell to her knees and thanked Muñoz and everyone else at the center. “If you would’ve seen her, your eyes would’ve watered,” Muñoz says.”
You can read the article here. We were thrilled that Oakland North covered our story, and even more thrilled our local donation bin at SadieDey’s Cafe filled up a few days after the article!
Sarah from Children’s Council of San Francisco was thumbing through the pages of the latest Glamour Magazine and found us (page 226) in the magazine’s feature: 31 Days of Giving (HAMO is December 21st).
Thank you Sarah for alerting us to this important news item and big hugs to Glamour Magazine for honoring us with this mention. May we diaper beautiful babies together
You can check it out here.
Yesterday Gray’s Anatomy’s Ellen Pompeo announced a massive diaper drive to help babies in need. She’s partnering with Huggies Every Little Bottom campaign, which is hoping to raise 20 MILLION diapers for U.S. and Canada babies.
We’re excited the cause is getting national media coverage, and even more excited that this effort will bring diapers to babies who need them, but also raise a ton of Awareness.
As an Every Little Bottom Diaper Bank partner, we will be one of the many recipients of diapers. The majority of donations will be benefit Feeding America food banks, which I think is all kinds of awesome, since you know I believe food banks can play a pivotal role in distributing diapers and other hygiene items.
It’s all wonderful news and really puts the stamp of approval on the grassroots work HAMO endeavors to accomplish.
For more information and how you can get involved in the campaign visit Every Little Bottom.
Disclosure: As aforementioned, HAMO is a diaper bank partner of the ELB campaign. We are grateful to receive in kind product on behalf of the families we serve. Neither I, nor HAMO as an organization, were compensated with money to write this post. Mkay?
Photo via Creative Commons: http://telefilmania.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/ellen-pompeo-as-meredith-grey.jpg
Did you know that since 2005, it is illegal in California to shackle pregnant inmates while they are being transported to the hospital while in labor?
But did you know that in other instances, shackling of pregnant inmates is still legal?
According to The Guardian, ten U.S. states currently have shackling laws on the books (California, Colorado, Illinois, New Mexico, New York, Texas, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and Pennsylvania).
In 2005, CA legislation was enacted with AB 478 (Lieber). As Salon.com previously wrote, this legislation states that no prisoner:
“shall not be shackled by the wrists, ankles, or both during labor, including during transport to the hospital, during delivery, and while in recovery after giving birth.”
Although the law has been in effect for some time, recently it has become evident that not all correctional officers are abiding by it in the jails and prisons across the state.
According to California NOW, our Golden State currently has the distinction of having the largest female inmate population of any state.
AB 1900 (Skinner)
New legislation is currently being considered to amend the 2005 law, enter AB 1900 (Skinner). If passed by the California legislature, the bill will prohibit shackling of pregnant women in county jails, state prisons and juvenile facilities at any time unless the woman presents a danger to herself or others.
You can peruse the documents related to this bill here.
Per Karen Shain, Policy Director at Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, a legal advocacy group based in San Francisco:
The bill comes out of the personal experience of a young mother who was incarcerated at Contra Costa County Jail during the bulk of her pregnancy. She was shackled every time she went to court–oftentimes with a belly shackle and attached to a male prisoner. She was also shackled at the hospital where she was admitted with pre-eclampsia–she was shackled to the bed, having to call a guard every time she needed to go to the bathroom. Then she was attached to a large chain that would give her enough distance to be able to use a commode, but not enough to actually use the bathroom in her room! While it is illegal for pregnant women to be shackled when going to the hospital when in labor, all other shackling of pregnant women is currently legal in California.
The bill will require that Corrections Standards Authority (CSA) set uniform standards across the State of California for how incarcerated pregnant women may be restrained.
As of August 12, 2010 the bill has passed the house and made it’s way to the senate, having been amended and a third reading has been ordered.
The HAMO Connection
Our partner agency Family, Maternal and Child Health Programs of Contra Costa county has a program, Lift Every Voice, that has been an integral part of raising awareness of this issue and advocating for this piece of legislation.
We here at HAMO believe that every baby matters and that every mother, regardless of her current status, deserves access to appropriate prenatal and postpartum care. This is a human rights issue, not only for the expectant mother, but also for the child she is carrying.
How You Can Help
Updated 8/18/10: The ACLU of Northern California has a handy tool for you to contact Governor Schwarzenegger. Find it by clicking here.
2) Spread the word to your network. Blog, Tweet, and Facebook it. Talk about it with your friends.
Any reporters reading this? If you email me I would be happy to put you in touch with our sources: lisa at helpamotherout dotorg.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on this issue. Had you heard about shackling pregnant women inmates previously? If you reside outside California, do you know your state’s policy on addressing this practice?
Here we are again, nearly one year later singing the same tune. When things get tough, the tough throw women and children overboard?
Last Friday, Governor Schwarzenegger proposed to end the state’s welfare program CalWORKS(again) as well as most of the state-subsidized childcare programs. According to the Western Center on Law and Poverty, the Governor’s proposed budget would “decimate” the state’s safety net for poor families, whose population has grown exponentially since the Great Recession.
According to the Los Angelese Times, nearly 1 million children would loose access to the safety net with the administration’s proposed budget.
Contact your California legislator to voice your concern over the Governor’s proposed budget to eliminate the state’s safety net programs for the poor.
Can you imagine not having enough diapers for your baby? Did you know that diapers are not covered under safety net programs like food stamps or WIC? For many families in crisis this can mean being forced to choose between affording other basic human needs — shelter, food, medicine, or diapers. Until we started Help A Mother Out, we didn’t know any of this. We’re working to help improve the lives of mothers, children, and families, one diaper at a time. Won’t you join us?
This year Mother’s Day is on May 9th. We’ll be celebrating the entire month of May both by raising diapers and awareness of this basic human need.
Your Call To Action:
ATTEND one of our sponsored events (check back frequently as we add more cities to this roster).
- Tucson, AZ 5/1
- Phoenix, AZ 5/1
- Chicago, IL check back for details
- Kansas City, MO 5/2
- New York, NY 5/3
- Long Island, NY 5/1
- Long Island, NY 5/15
- New Haven, CT 5/2
- Seattle, WA 5/22 check back for details
PASS IT ON: Talk about this issue with others. No mother should have to choose between food or diapers for her baby.
*Be sure to report back to us on your May diaper collection efforts…we want to hear about it! Post a comment HERE or email us info at helpamotherout.org.
Swell magenta HAMO Mother’s Day, 2010 campaign button designed by Kate at Jet Kat Design. Thanks Kate!
Click here for press release (4/20/10)
Welcome The Poop Readers!
Now, let’s talk Poop.
- Learn more about the diaper issue by reading our Diapers 101 post.
- Virtual Diaper Drive: If you’d like to buy some diapers and ship them directly to one of our partner agencies, check out our list of Northern California agencies, then follow the Amazon.com links.
- Download our free diaper drive toolkit for ideas on how to host your own diaper drive.
- You can also drop off diapers at any one of our drop bin locations.
- Join us March 28th at Natural Resources for an Infant & Toddler Clothing Swap. Admission is a pack of diapers. Bring your kid’s clothes and swap them for the size you need!
- Save The Date: Mother’s Day Diaper Drive.
- Stay in touch with us via Facebook and Twitter.
We continue to be surprised and awed by the amount of community support given to our project. We’d be delighted if you checked back from time to time and kept in touch with our campaign. If you have any questions or want to help more, check out our FAQ first and then write to us: info at helpamotherout dotorg.
Important: Do you need diapers? While HAMO does not distribute directly to individuals, we encourage you to look over our list of Northern California partners. Many of our partners distribute emergency diapers to individuals in need as do some local church food pantries. Our partners also have many different services for families in need. Please contact them directly for assistance or Dial2-1-1 to get more information on an agency nearest you.
Since October, 2009 a little known federal program, the Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP), has assisted an estimated 600,000 Americans in avoiding homelessness. The micro-funds provided by HPRP are used to cover expenses such as rent checks, security deposits, utility bills, and moving expenses.
According to a recent Time Magazine article, struggling families have been especially hard hit in the recession:
Meanwhile, unemployment and foreclosure have sent tens of thousands of families into financial free fall. At the beginning of 2009, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities projected that the severe recession and the growth of long-term unemployment would push an additional 1.5 million people into the streets. Asks Roman: “Why should we think that people can get their lives together, get a job, keep their kids in school, when they live in a van or a shelter? It is not reasonable. People need the stability of a home. You need housing to be employed. It’s the platform for everything else.” With long-term unemployment at record highs, Congress is considering providing an additional $1 billion in funding for HPRP as part of a forthcoming jobs bill.
Micro-funds to keep people off the streets and on the road back to self sufficiency. Now THIS is the kind of stimulus we could get behind.
We’d love to hear from folks on the front lines – what do you think of this program? Do you think providing these types of funds to qualifying individuals works?
Governor Schwarzenegger released his budget proposal on Friday, and it’s really ugly. Knowledge is power, and though it sucks to have to relate this bad news to supporters of HAMO, I am heartened by the fact that once people understand how bad this budget proposal is, they’ll mobilize to fight against it.
Image from http://www.imdb.com/
“Regular cuts” and “trigger cuts” One of the first things to understand about Schwarzenegger’s budget proposal is that it contains two levels of cuts. The first level contains the regular cuts that would take place regardless of how much money California gets from the Feds. The second level includes more drastic “trigger cuts”, cuts that will only take place if “triggered” by the Federal government giving California less than $6.9 billion by July 2010, and “Regular Cuts” affecting children and families:
- Cutting CalWORKs (California’s welfare program) grant levels by 15%. (This is on top of last year’s 4% CalWORKs grant cut). This cut will cost the typical CalWORKs family of three $109/month.
- Elimination of the CalWORKs recent non-citizen entrants program (for legal immigrants who have been in the US less than 5 years).
- Elimination of the California Food Assistance Program (provides nutrition assistance to legal immigrants who are ineligible for Food Stamps solely because of their immigration status.)
- Reducing the level at which the state reimburses CalWORKs child care providers.
- Reduction of SSI/SSP grants by $15/month (this would be the fourth cut in 12 months for low-income disabled and/or elderly folks on SSI/SSP.)
- Reduction of family planning reimbursement rates.
- Limiting eligibility for Healthy Families as well as increasing premiums and decreasing benefits for some children in the program.
- Asking voters to approve raiding “First 5” funds to pay for programs usually funded through the General Fund. (“First 5” programs help kids aged 0-5 and is funded through a 50 cent per pack tobacco tax.)
- Complete elimination of the CalWORKs program.
- Complete elimination of the Healthy Families program.
- Complete elimination of the In Home Supportive Services program.
- $36 million in cuts to Transitional Housing Plus Program for foster youth.
- Elimination of “federally optional” Medi-Cal benefits like durable medical equipment and physical therapy.
- Asking voters to allow the state to raid Prop 63 funds to pay for existing mental health programs (Prop 63 levies a tax on millionaires. Funds are used for new — not existing– mental health treatment programs.)
So, what are we going to do about this?
The worst thing we can do right now is stay silent! Tell your family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers about the Governor’s proposed cuts and encourage them to speak out against the cuts.
Keep up with the latest developments.