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The Diaper Bank: No Cost Diapers Improve Infant Health

Catholic Charities New York Diaper Bank
Catholic Charities New York Provides a Free Diaper Bank

Catholic Charities of New York provides free diapers at four HomeBase locations in The Bronx.

By Richard Bertin

The first years of a baby’s life can be very expensive. A baby can go through upwards of 10 diapers a day, which the National Diaper Network estimates can cost $70-80 a month, per baby. That’s around $900 a year. According to Walmart, new parents can expect to spend an average of $2,700 in the first year alone for essential items.  It is no surprise that many low-income families find it difficult to afford this essential childcare item.

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Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York’s Community Outreach Services program operates a Diaper Bank that provides diapers for families facing economic hardship.

For those with limited income, having to choose between diapers, housing expenses and food is a choice mothers sometimes need to make. Catholic Charities Community Services (CCCS) offers Diaper Bank assistance at its four HomeBase sites in the Bronx. One of our Program Directors, who recently became a new father, realized the large expense diapers were to his own family budget. It was through his personal experience that he became motivated to address this economic inequity where clients found it difficult to afford diapers while facing so many other competing financial obligations. The Diaper Bank was born by joining his personal experience with the needs he saw in The Bronx community he served.

Surprisingly, there are few public programs that provide diapers. Under SNAP benefits, diapers are not an approved expense. Thanks to Singh’s push to address this inequity, CCCS was first awarded discretionary funding from New York City Councilwoman Annabel Palma in 2014 to establish a diaper program for socio-economically struggling families. Since then, funding for the purchase of diapers has continued up to today and has expanded to each HomeBase site. Last year over 350 boxes of diapers were provided to more than 100 households. With additional support from The National Diaper Bank and private donors, Catholic Charities of New York’s impact will increase in these communities and have a positive impact on the health of infants.

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For instance, The Bronx experiences a high rate of urinary tract infection rates among young children. This higher than average UTI rate may be the result of soiled diaper reuse. “We have found that some parents either keep their children in soiled diapers for long periods of time or do not have diapers on their children. The unfortunate reality is that they just can’t afford to buy a large supply of diapers,” says Navin Singh, Program Direct at The Diaper Bank.

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The way the Diaper Bank program works is simple yet effective. If any Bronx resident finds themselves in need of diapers, they may contact their nearest HomeBase site and make a request. Individuals only need to show proof of Bronx residency to be eligible. There is no charge for a box of diapers. For additional information, please call our Helpline at 888.744.7900 for assistance.

Part of creating a better future for tomorrow’s generation requires impactful action today. Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York believes that everyone was created in God’s image and is entitled to a dignified life. When it comes to nurturing children, however, if mothers do not have access to the most basic resources needed to keep their children safe and healthy, the long-term negative impact can be devastating and create set-backs in a child’s healthy development. Our Diaper Bank works directly in support of women, mothers, and families.

If you would like to help support this program, or any other program at Catholic Charities of New York, please visit our giving page.