Student Poster

The Babies' Place: Addressing Diaper Need in Central Wisconsin

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Purpose/Background: More families than ever lack access to diapers leading to a public health crisis. Diaper need is a basic need and is defined as an inadequate supply of diapers to change a child as often as needed. 1 in 3 families struggle to provide clean diapers for their babies. Yet, there are no federal programs to assist with diaper needs and diapers cannot be purchased with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. Diapers are essential to a baby’s healthy development and are key to providing a solid foundation for children to reach their full potential. In addition, an insufficient supply of diapers negatively impacts maternal mental health by diminishing maternal sense of competence and increasing maternal stress, which also impacts children’s health. In Wisconsin, 8 diaper banks struggle to keep up with increased diaper need – none of which are within 100 miles of Wausau. In spring of 2020, The Babies’ Place, diaper and feminine hygiene bank, opened in Wausau, Wisconsin to address diaper need in Central Wisconsin. The Babies’ Place has formed community partnerships, such as a domestic violence shelter, Women, Children, Infant Nutrition Program (WIC), and Healthfirst, to increase awareness and distribute resources. There are now over 100 families registered with the program.

Methods: To address diaper need in the Wausau area, we sent a survey to families who service local daycares, the Hmong American center, and Head Start. To increase awareness and outreach, a pilot program is being developed with a local health system. Our goal of the pilot program being part of the pediatrics department is families will get screened for diaper need, be able to receive diapers at their appointment, get connected to The Babies’ Place for immediate and long-term support, and create stronger connections between resources, providers, and patients.

Results: Preliminary survey results assessing the diaper need in the Wausau community shows around 50% of respondents experience a financial burden from money spent purchasing diapers every month. Personal needs and clothes are top items parents forego to afford diapers.

Conclusions: Preliminary survey results show diaper need is present within Central Wisconsin. Next steps for The Babies’ Place pilot program include increasing awareness, assessing the diaper bank community impact, and evaluating the pilot program’s effectiveness and possible expansion into other locations or specialties.