1 in 14 Children Under Age 6 Is Experiencing Homelessness Right Now

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Babies of Homelessness is a diaper bank that delivers diapers, pull-ups, and formula to families in need and agencies in King and Snohomish counties. Our volunteer network operates an intake phone line to assess needs and then delivers basics to families with children experiencing homelessness within a few days. We also provide a monthly supply of diapers and other basics to twenty agencies in South King and Snohomish counties to expand our reach in areas where very few resources (if any) exist for ongoing diaper support.

We believe that diapers are not a need. They’re a necessity. When parents can afford the basics for their children (when we can help them focus less on the day-to-day parts of survival)  they’re healthier and more likely to achieve personal and professional goals.

Demand at our diaper bank has surged during the pandemic. We have witnessed a 172% increase in the average number of diapers we’re distributing to families and agencies.

Did you know that 1 in 14 children under age 6 in Washington state is experiencing homelessness right now? As you already know, there are families in Burien who are struggling to find affordable housing, food and to meet the basic needs of young children including diapers, formula, and wipes. As reported recently by the Seattle Times, “The homelessness of children and families is much less visible than the homelessness of single adults. So much so, that most people tend not to realize it is an issue. But in Washington, 80,000 children and youth touch homelessness each year: 50% are K-12 students, and 50% are pre-K ages.”

An estimated 1 in 3 American families is also struggling to provide enough diapers to keep a baby or toddler clean, dry, and healthy.

  • Diapers are expensive. Costs about $80/month to provide diapers for one child.  Prices for diapers will rise again in September.
  • Federal food assistance programs SNAP and WIC cannot be used to purchase diapers. As some families have told us, sometimes it comes down to eating or diapers.
  • 36 states charge sales tax on diapers, including WA. There was a bill to exempt diapers from sales tax, but it did not advance.
  • There was also an idea to increase TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) to include an extra $80/month diaper stipend to households with children under 3,  but the bill did not advance.
  • Cloth diapering is impractical when a family experiencing homelessness is without a washer/dryer, laundering facilities, and emergency housing prohibits washing soiled diapers.

A lot of people don’t realize diapers are non-negotiable. If parents cannot afford diapers, they cannot work because they cannot send their children to childcare without a supply of diapers. Reduced work hours. Missed days off work. Loss of income. It also means parents improvise to make diapers stretch further, changing diapers less often, or attempting to clean and reuse disposable diapers, which are health and safety hazards.

 

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