Diaper Need in the United States: One California Diaper Bank’s Story

Diaper Need in the United States: One California Diaper Bank’s Story

Before the pandemic, there were approximately 40,000 hospital visits in California annually for the top three symptoms of diaper need, most of which were to the emergency room.

As one county public health officer states, “There would be terrible diaper dermatitis, rashes, even to the point of infection and sometimes leading to urinary tract infections from babies sitting in their diapers for too long.”

Catalyzed by a chance viewing of Congresswoman Barbara Lee speaking about diaper need on MSNBC by a former CEO of a major healthcare provider, since 2016, SupplyBank.org has administered a program that provides diapers and wipes to people experiencing diaper need.

The program’s model of equipping trusted local organizations with diapers and wipes for community distribution expanded quickly. It also provided critical infrastructure for something no one expected.

In early 2020, when the scope of the pandemic became apparent, with early leadership from several First 5 County Commissions and First 5 California, emergency personal protective equipment (PPE) and basic needs supply programs were established in all 58 counties.

These programs’ designs were built off the framework the diaper program established years earlier. Other contributors followed, and tens of millions of PPE, diapers, and wipes continue to be distributed to childcare providers, children, and families throughout the state. In many counties, the program was the only resource for their communities to access.

As we look towards the future, lawmakers and philanthropic leaders must work with diaper banks and other stakeholders to build on promising solutions. Many of these are highlighted in the film, which takes about ten minutes to watch.