The Community’s Need for Diapers
- Diapers average a cost of $100 per month (babies need 8-12 diapers/day)
- No public assistance covers the cost of diapers including Food Stamps (SNAP) or WIC
- Disposable diapers are required by daycares
- Cloth diapers require access to sufficient laundry facilities, which many families do not have
- Incontinence is considered a growing concern among adults age 60 and older
- Last year (2013) we provided 742,000 diapers/adult incontinence items to our partner agencies, but had to turn down requests for many more hundreds of thousands of diapers.
For every $1 dollar donated, we can distribute $3 worth of diapers! Make a donation.
Access to a sufficient supply of diapers is essential for the health of Southern Arizona’s infants, disabled and elderly, and the quality of life of our community, but too many individuals don’t have the resources to adequately provide for this basic need.
As long as poverty exists, children and adults in our community will need diapers. The need is already great… and it’s growing: just this past year, those living below the poverty line in Pima County grew by 27 percent meaning that 1 in 4 children is born into poverty annually.
In 2013, Tucson was ranked the 8th poorest major metropolitan area in the country by the U.S. Census Bureau; fully 37 percent of our city’s children live below the federal poverty line–a heartbreaking statistic.
Resources for free or discounted diapers are few. Food Stamps and WIC cannot be used to purchase diapers. The Diaper Bank of Southern Arizona’s goal is to bridge this gap in available resources for our community’s neediest and most vulnerable populations, which we do working through our partner agencies.
Infant and Children Needs
Shortage of diapers can lead to serious impacts on the well being of those in need. Parents without sufficient resources often allow children to wear diapers for too long during the day, or try to clean and reuse disposable diapers, putting children at risk for staph and other infections. The likelihood of abuse increases when a baby is in a household facing the stresses of poverty, and increases even more when that baby is crying due to the discomfort of a soiled diaper and the health issues that can result.
An analysis completed by the Children’s Action Alliance of Arizona in 2009 concluded that at current costs, a family of four earning $33,920 annually (based on two parents earning $8.15 per hour, equating to 160 percent of the current poverty rate) would spend all but $54 of their monthly income on housing, utilities, child care, transportation, food, and taxes. That $54 each month pay for diapers, clothing, personal items, school supplies, haircuts, and other needs for four people. Diapers for one child cost nearly $100 per month, leaving working families struggling to provide the most basic necessities.
At the same time, daycare facilities require that parents provide sufficient disposable diapers to meet the needs of their children while in the facility. In order to do so, parents may have to make difficult choices between purchasing diapers, paying bills, or buying groceries.
Many disabled people are obliged to wear diapers for a variety of reasons, incontinence and inability to use a bathroom unaided among the most common. This is a life-long, everyday reality for many disabled persons, and both the prevalence and the frequency of bladder problems associated with many disabilities increase with age.
According to Pima County government statistics used for planning services for disabled adults, in 2007, 13 percent of Pima County residents between the ages of 16 and 64 were disabled – 76,940 people. Of those disabled adults, 31 percent live below 150 percent of the federal poverty level. These numbers only include people with disabilities who are living independently, either alone or with family – not those who are institutionalized and have greater access to care.
If not for the Diaper Bank’s monthly incontinent supply donations to our partner agencies, many of our community’s disabled would suffer decreased quality of life, ranging from constant discomfort due to accidents to being unable to leave their homes. The Diaper Bank is also committed to providing information to disabled adults about the potential to overcome or reduce incontinence, especially for clients for whom mobility is the primary problem. We provide information about aids designed to improve independence, such as commodes and personal urinals, aids to be used in the bathroom, such as raised toilet seats, and the incontinence devices we supply, such as briefs and pads.
Pima County has one of the highest concentrations of older adults in the southwest; more than 20 percent of Pima County’s population is over 60 years of age. By 2020 it is projected to be 25 percent, one in four. Pima County’s 60 plus population increased 138 percent in the last 28 years while the total population increased 90 percent. The fastest growing segment of the aging population is individuals over 85, the most vulnerable who tend to need assistance. At a time when Southern Arizona’s communities need to be building infrastructure and planning to care for our increasing aging population, services are instead being reduced for even the lowest-income seniors.
More than 17,000 (8.9 percent) of Pima County’s elderly population live below the federal poverty level, leaving many unable to pay for critical services. Pima Council on Aging (PCOA) conducted the Community Needs Assessment 2011-2013 and published the Area Plan on Aging. The report identified major problem areas for seniors including, lack of affordable dental and health care, understanding Medicare, maintaining and repairing their home, access to transportation, assistance with meals, housekeeping, laundry and personal care. “More pronounced in this current needs assessment, though, was the number of individuals concerned with income to meet their basic needs…”
The supplies distributed by the Diaper Bank through our partner organizations is part of a larger continuum of services that not only supports Southern Arizona’s older adults remaining in their own homes, but also contributes to their dignity and quality of life. If not for the Diaper Bank’s monthly incontinence supply donations to our partner agencies many of our community’s elderly would be unable to leave their homes to due to fear of embarrassment, and would live in compromised comfort even while at home.