DENVER – Before COVID-19, one in three U.S. families could not afford diapers. The pandemic’s resulting impact on American job security, increased cost of living and growing inflation have only exacerbated this need as diaper banks struggle to keep up. With skyrocketing demand, HomeAid Colorado has completed its annual Builders for Babies Diaper Drive. “Coming a long way since collecting 18,000 diapers in 2015, this event has grown as the building industry has embraced the need for diapers and found a way to help struggling families across the state,” said Cindy Bell, Executive Director of HomeAid Colorado. Through its online landing page, HomeAid is able to donate 1.4 million diapers and 1 million wipes. They are also accepting in-person diaper and wipe donations at the distribution event on June 23rd at DICK’S Sporting Goods Park.
Over 38% of Colorado infants and toddlers don’t have access to clean diapers. The demand for diapers increased by as much as 300% during the pandemic but there are still no state or federal programs that cover the cost of diapers. Disposable diapers are required at most childcare facilities and cloth diapers are not an option for low-income families as they often don’t own mashing machines and washing soiled diapers is prohibited at most laundromats. Nationally, 57% of caregivers experiencing diaper needs said they missed an average of four days of school or work a month because they couldn’t afford diapers.
It costs about $1,000 per year to buy a supply of average-priced diapers for one child. For someone who works a full-time minimum-wage job, making just over $15,000 a year, that’s a huge expense. When a caregiver can’t afford diapers, children are sitting in unsanitary conditions for extended periods of time – placing children at a higher risk of infection and emotional trauma. It can also negatively affect the mental and emotional health of parents, leading to difficulty in coping with stress, depression, and trauma.
A young, single father of a six-month-old and a one-and-a-half-year-old has struggled with acquiring this basic need. Before receiving diapers through Volunteers of America, a Builders for Babies diaper recipient, he had to resort to stealing. He was forced to use diapers that were too small for his child and diapers that were too large for his baby. His children have gone without diapers and he has had to wash their bottoms in the bathtub repeatedly during the day when he is out of wipes. He is only one example of how dire the diaper situation can be for struggling families.
With the significant inflation of recent months, especially in the cost of housing, food and fuel, the families at Early Childhood Partnership of Adams County are extremely grateful for the free diapers and wipes they receive.
“I am very grateful for the diapers and wipes ECPAC has been able to help me with,” one diaper recipient said. It is an ongoing expense that is needed for the health of my baby. The cost is difficult to keep up with and being able to get help has been a blessing. The stress of constantly needing to spend a big chunk of money on a need every baby has helped me tremendously!”
HomeAid plans to distribute all donations on Friday, June 23rd to 51 service providers across Colorado. These organizations will then give those diapers out to thousands of families in their network who come to them for assistance. HomeAid asks that in-person donations are made in diaper sizes 4, 5, and 6 as well as wipes. Donating diapers and wipes is the best way to support families around the state. Please note that cloth diapers, baby food, toys or any used items will not be accepted.
For more information, visit HomeAidColorado.org.