Etcetera - 8/12/13

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Along with the costs of childcare, feeding, clothing, medical, toiletries, toys, books, and savings for college, the www.babycenter.com’s First-Year Baby Costs Calculator indicates disposable diapers can be about $72 per month.

The concern for low-income parents is this is not an expense covered by such federal benefit programs as food stamps or WIC, the supplemental nutrition program for women, infants and children.

Caroline Kunitz, who runs the L.A. Diaper Drive, told the Los Angeles Times that it’s “the silent epidemic.”

Her organization distributes 1.5 million diapers to nonprofit partners across Southern California each year and can’t keep up with the demand.

Liz McDevitt, director of Helpline in Walla Walla, noted a number of other statistics about this challenge that were adapted from an Aug. 2 MSN Money article by Bruce Kennedy.

Not being able to afford an adequate supply of clean diapers for their offspring can be a health risk, she noted. American consumers use 470 diapers per second, 95.6 percent of which are disposable.

This article cites an average expense of $100 per month just for disposable diapers and a Yale University study said close to one-third of low-income parents can’t afford an adequate supply.

“The Yale study found the inability to afford diapers can keep a low-income parent economically vulnerable. The researchers said a lack of diapers ‘can affect a mother’s ability to attend work programs and training since most child care providers require that parents provide an adequate supply of disposable diapers.’”

In order to afford the diaper supply, families will cut back on food, utilities, child care and other expenses. Some will also keep their children in soiled diapers for longer periods — or clean out dirty diapers and reuse them — which can create health problems for the baby.

In an interview on NBC News, one single working mother said she could get aid with food at a food bank, “But there was no help for things like diapers. I had to borrow money and sell everything I had — the DVD player, the TV — to get money for diapers.”

An impact can be made locally by donating diapers at the Helpline office, 1520 Kelly Place, Suite 180.

Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at annieeveland@wwub.com or afternoons at 526-8313.

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