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Seven Illinois Nonprofits form an Advocacy Coalition Bringing Awareness to Unmet Diaper Need

Updated: Nov 20, 2023

Illinois (September 18)—Governor JB Pritzker has officially proclaimed the week of September 18 – September 24, 2023 as National Diaper Need Awareness Week, in the state of Illinois.


Seven nonprofit organizations across Illinois have joined forces and formed an Illinois Diaper Bank Coalition to bring awareness to unmet diaper need and advocate for families across our state. As part of his Proclamation, Governor Pritzker encourages the citizens of Illinois to donate generously to diaper banks, diaper drives, and organizations that collect and distribute diapers to families struggling with diaper need, so that all of Illinois’ children and families can thrive and reach their full potential.


Members of the National Diaper Bank Network include: Brightpoint, Bundled Blessings, Covered Bottoms, Cradles to Crayons, Loving Bottoms Diaper Bank, Keeping Families Covered, and Share Our Spare. These Illinois organizations work together to ensure that all babies have access to clean diapers and other basic necessities they need to thrive.


Diaper need is a public health crisis and defined as the lack of a sufficient amount of diapers to keep a baby clean, dry, and healthy. Children experiencing poverty are at greatest risk of suffering from the effects of diaper need—simply because many of these families cannot afford diapers.


Current public support programs help some, but young children have additional needs for building a strong foundation, healthy growth, and to reach their full potential. Several states have advocated with legislation to remove taxes on diapers to reduce the burden. Illinois is not one of those states.


In their joint effort to End Diaper Need, the Illinois Diaper Bank Coalition advocates for policy change in Illinois that will remove financial barriers families face when providing diapers. Additionally, in partnership with the Illinois Association of Community Action Agencies, the Coalition has applied for federal funding that will support the purchase and distribution of diapers and supplies to families experiencing poverty.


“As families care for their children and babies, the last thing parents should have to worry about is whether or not they’ll have the diapers that are essential to the health and well-being of their children,” U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) said. During National Diaper Need Awareness Week, it’s critical to highlight this need that is still present for so many families, as well as the resources and support available. I’m proud to have helped secure a $10 million increase in funding for diaper banks, which builds upon my provisions in the American Rescue Plan. I’m proud of the work organizations the Illinois Diaper Bank Coalition continue to do to support parents, and I’ll keep doing what I can at the federal level to assist these efforts.”


Basics aren’t basic, they are as essential as food and housing for babies. New data shows that nearly 1 in 2 families in the US experience unmet diaper need, according to the National Diaper Bank Network, which affects their ability to nurture happy and healthy babies. This need also hinders their ability to go to work and school.


“Every baby in Illinois matters, and yet too many are left without the basic necessity of clean diapers,” said Lee Ann Porter, Loving Bottoms Founder and Executive Director. “While we're proud to serve 12 counties in downstate Illinois, the reality is most of our state is still underserved in this critical area. Together with our partners in the Illinois Diaper Bank Coalition, we're not just raising awareness; we're advocating for real change so that every family, in every corner of our state, can focus on what really matters—the love and growth of their children.”


Unmet diaper need is cited as the number one mental health stressor for new parents as most government assistance programs do not cover diapers. Diapers can cost an average family $70 to $80 per month per child in diapers, which is equal to about 14% of the monthly income of families experiencing poverty.


“Cradles to Crayons is proud to be part of this essential partnership to address this critical need that has gone unmet for far too long across our state,” said Dawn Melchiorre, Cradles to Crayons Executive Director - Chicago. “In the past year, we’ve distributed nearly 8.5 million diapers across our Chicago, Boston and Philadelphia sites. By providing children (0-12) with the essentials they need to thrive—at home, at school and at play—C2C aims to make all children feel valued.”


Without diapers, babies cannot participate in early education programs, which inhibits many parents from going to work. In fact, a study conducted by the National Diaper Bank Network and Huggies found that parents who struggled with diaper need missed an average of four days of work per month. Unmet diaper need is so much more than a basic need, it has health, mental health and economic impacts.




Contacts:

Ann Marie Mathis, annmarie@keepingfamiliescovered.org

Founder & CEO, Keeping Families Covered – Waukegan, IL

Alex Goodfellow, alex@shareourspare.org

Executive Director, Share Our Spare – Chicago, IL

Executive Director, Cradles to Crayons – Chicago, IL

Public Policy Manager, Brightpoint – Chicago, IL

Lee Ann Porter, leeann@lovingbottoms.org

Founder & Executive Director, Loving Bottoms Diaper Bank – Galesburg, IL

Covered Bottoms Diaper Bank – Quincy, IL

Bundled Blessings – Evanston, IL


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