Families who live in poverty have a variety of social service agencies to help with basic needs such as housing and food.

One thing many of these programs do not cover, however, is diapers, and with National Diaper Need Awareness Week approaching, a Kansas City-based organization is doing what it can to spread the word.

“Diaper Need Awareness Week is important because most people do not know that diapers are not covered by food stamps (SNAP), WIC funds or any safety net program,” said Liz Sutherlin, board president of HappyBottoms. “Low income families in our community struggle to buy diapers for their babies. Diapers are expensive and average $85 to $100 per month per child. There are 19,000 children living at the poverty level or below in the six counties surrounding Kansas City (Jackson, Clay, Platte, Cass in Missouri and Johnson and Wyandotte in Kansas) who are of diaper age. These families cannot rely on cloth diapers as they do not have access to laundry facilities, and if they take their children to day care they will not allow a child to come in cloth diapers.”

HappyBottoms is a diaper bank in the Kansas City area that acquires diapers through donations of diapers and money. Those diapers are then given to area agencies to disperse to families. Current partners include the Community Services League, Hope House, Child Abuse Prevention Association, Baby Grace, the Salvation Army Children’s Shelter, Operation Breakthrough and Hope Faith Ministries, among others.

HappyBottoms collects and purchases diapers at discounted rates.

“The first study on diaper need was released in July in the Journal of Pediatrics, entitled ‘Diaper Need and Its Impact on Child Health,’” Sutherlin said. “Some key findings from the study were nearly 30 percent of low-income mothers report that they can’t afford enough diapers to change their babies as frequently as they’d like, moms experiencing diaper need are nearly twice as likely as their peers to report symptoms of depression and other mental health needs, experiencing diaper need is even more stressful than food insecurity and decades of research have established that maternal stress and depression can harm a child’s development and cause lifelong problems. This study demonstrates diaper need is a serious problem that can lead to long-term consequences for the child and the parent.”

Sutherlin said that HappyBottoms is focusing on reaching out more on social media as well as meeting with directors of its agency partners to discuss the diaper need.

“HappyBottoms' goal is to become a sustainable resource that can help meet the diaper needs of low income families in our community,” Sutherlin said. “HappyBottoms needs donors of dollars and diapers and volunteers. If you want to give dollars we are launching a new way to make giving easy through the RAZ Mobile platform. Just grab your cell phone and text 'diapers' to 816-865-5950. We always need size 4 diapers and all sizes of pull ups. We also take open packages of diapers which can be dropped at our donation spots around the metro. Those can be found on our website as well.”

For more information on HappyBottoms, visit www.happybottoms.org.