First 5 California, Alameda County & SupplyBank.Org Launch Innovative Diaper Kit Pilot Program to Aid Local Families

[July 17, 2018] Oakland, California – Hundreds of parents at Eastmont Mall WIC Office were the first of more than 2,000 families in Northern California to receive a helping hand thanks to a coalition of public and private organizations coordinated by the nonprofit SupplyBank.Org. To address both the issue of “diaper need” and the early learning gap for young children from low-income families, First 5 California, Alameda County and SupplyBank.Org have joined forces to launch a pilot Diaper Kit Program, which provides families with children ages 0-3 with monthly kits containing 100 diapers and 200 baby wipes. The kits are designed with colorful messaging from the award-winning Talk. Read. Sing.® campaign, to convey the importance of talking, reading and singing to babies daily to promote early brain development. In attendance at today’s kickoff were First 5 California Commission Chairman George Halvorson and Chief Deputy Director and Counsel Frank Furtek, SupplyBank.Org Founder and Executive Director Benito Delgado-Olson, the offices of Congresswoman Barbara Lee, State Assemblymember Rob Bonta, Alameda County Board of Supervisors President Wilma Chan and several other agency representatives.

Costing up to $100/month, diapers are often the highest unaddressed cost burden for low-income families, accounting for up to 14% of a household budget. In addition to diaper need, the program seeks to combat the kindergarten readiness gap faced by young children from low-income families as compared to their affluent peers, by using the kits to disseminate messaging from First 5 California’s Talk. Read. Sing. campaign. “Diaper need is a serious problem in California and across the nation, but this issue provides the opportunity for an innovative solution,” said First 5 California Commission Chair George Halvorson. “The delivery of this valuable resource also helps raise the awareness of talking, reading, singing, and even counting to babies, which helps stimulate brain development, improve health, and close the readiness gap. This partnership is a key investment in early childhood wellness and education.”

Diaper need also creates a barrier to families accessing childcare, as parents are required to provide a day or week’s supply of diapers upon dropping their child off at daycare. For families living on the margins of economic stability, an issue as simple as diaper need can snowball into inescapable poverty. “In 15 neighborhoods in the County, more than one-half of children are living in poverty; in another 36 neighborhoods, more than one-third of children are,” said Alameda County Board of Supervisors President Wilma Chan. “The Diaper Kit Program closely aligns with several of the goals of ALL IN Alameda County, our new war on poverty, by ensuring babies are healthy and parents have access to childcare and thus employment.” Parents often call in sick if they do not have access to childcare due to a lack of diapers, which can eventually lead to termination or an inability to obtain employment at all.

Diaper need also results in severe medical conditions including diaper dermatitis, urinary tract infections, candidiasis and others. The numbers are staggering, with more than 41,000 hospital visits statewide in 2016, 80% of which were to the ER, costing at least $49 million. In Alameda County, there were more than 1,000 hospital visits.

Today’s diaper distribution event was one of dozens happening on a monthly basis throughout a six-county pilot region, which includes Solano, Contra Costa, Alameda, Santa Clara, Sacramento and San Joaquin counties. Through the program, eligible clients of partnering Women, Infants & Children (WIC) clinics and First 5 family resource centers can pick up diaper kits where they regularly receive other services. “Structural realities have created gross inequities across zip codes resulting in life expectancy differentials among neighborhoods of up to 13 years, “ says First 5 Alameda County C.E.O. Kristin Spanos. “We envision communities in which families can get what they need, when they need it, so that all children thrive. Diapers and other basic necessities are essential part of that vision.” This integrated service delivery approach means families do not have to wait in line to receive aid.

The Diaper Kit Program is one of several programs that SupplyBank.Org administers to address the unmet material needs of low-income children and families. “We’re excited to be launching this scalable model to address diaper need here in Alameda County, where our organization has its roots,” said Benito Delgado-Olson, Founder and Executive Director of SupplyBank.Org. “We are grateful for the partnership and leadership of First 5 California, Alameda County and all other contributors for joining with us to solve this serious issue with careful thought and consideration.” The program provides diapers and wipes for about one-third of the in store cost. “With 1 in 3 mothers in the United States experiencing diaper need, program scalability is crucial,” he said.

Contributors to and collaborators in this six-county effort include First 5 California, SupplyBank.Org, Alameda County, Santa Clara County, First 5 Alameda County, Kaiser Permanente, Sunlight Giving, the Brin Wojcicki Foundation and the Thomas J. Long Foundation. Anyone interested in learning more or supporting this work is encouraged to contact SupplyBank.Org.