In 2015, the Director of our Adelphi/Langley Park Family Support Center shared a sad reality with me. Our community families are having trouble paying for diapers. They are leaving their infants in diapers too long and worse, drying diapers and reusing them. It was a call to action! With just a few calls (thank you Walmart and E-Z Storage) the Prince George’s Child Resource Center Diaper Bank was in business. The Resource Center then joined the National Diaper Bank Network and received excellent technical assistance.
It is clear that we tapped into a pressing need in the county. In our first year we distributed over 16,600 diapers to families, demonstrating the significant need faced by families in our community struggling to keep their babies healthy and happy. From employees at a variety of worksites “challenging” each other to bring in the most diapers to the incredible pregnant mom who asked guests at her baby shower to bring diapers for the bank, we are glad to meet this need and thank our generous partners and funders for making it possible.
This spring we had an opportunity to raise the issue in a different way. Legislation was introduced in the Maryland State House and Senate that would make the purchase of diapers exempt from sales tax. Such a simple change would allow a family to purchase an additional 150 diapers per year.
The Resource Center’s Danitza Simpson and Jennifer Hoffman went to Annapolis to take action by testifying at House and Senate hearings on the issue. They explained that diapers are a basic need, necessary for the health and welfare of babies and toddlers, and cost up to $1,000 per year. Without diapers parents may be unable to go to work or school because they cannot place their children in child care. They explained that we see infants and toddlers with severe diaper rash, dermatitis and urinary tract infections. Children in a wet diaper are more likely to cry or be irritable, which adds to the stress of being a parent. The Resource Center and partner advocates urged Maryland officials to pass this legislation and help ensure that Maryland parents can keep their children clean, healthy and dry.
Unfortunately, none of the proposals that were introduced this year passed through the legislative process. We’ll be on the look-out for opportunities in the future! In the meantime, get the Maryland facts from the National Diaper Bank Network, support our local diaper bank, and get ready to take action again next year.
Posted on 5/20/2016