Many working parents in Jackson County struggle with a seemingly simple thing – the cost of diapers.
Susan Belgur Angula, director of development for Happy Bottoms, a Kansas City non-profit, says her group is the “only diaper bank for families in need” in the six-county area.
As she describes it, the need is substantial. Diapers can run from $125 to $200 a month, government benefits programs don’t pay for them, and the catch for working parents is that daycares won’t take a child without them.
Happy Bottoms figures it will give out 2.5 million diapers this year, helping 11,000 to 13,000 small children.
“We are hoping to be at 20,000 next year,” Angula said. The hope is to reach into Independence and Raytown next year.
Jackson County gave Happy Bottoms $10,000 this year for its efforts, and the group is asking for $15,000 for 2020. It’s one of about three dozen outside agencies asking the county for funding for a range of social services. In many cases, the county’s rationale is that a dollar spent for preventive or support services today saves many tax dollars down the road.
This year’s requests come to $3.68 million, though county officials have penciled in $3 million total. That’s up from $2.57 million this year. All of this is a slice of the $362.65 million county budget for 2020 that legislators are expected to approve next Monday.
Other requests include:
• The Community Services League – $30,000 in 2019 and a request for the same in 2020.
• Swope Health Services, with a variety of programs, including a clinic in western Independence – $254,188 in 2019 and a request for $501,622 for 2020.
• FosterAdopt Connect, based in Independence, supporting foster care families and connecting them with other community resources – no funding in 2019 and a request for $20,000 in 2020. (Separately, the group does get funding through the county’s children’s services tax.)
• The Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault – $24,250 in 2019 and a request for $30,000 in 2020.
• NorthWest Community Development, whose programs include the senior center in Fairmount – $60,00 this year and a request for $75,000 for 2020.
• After the Harvest, which last year enlisted more than 900 volunteers to go into fields and orchards as well as farmers markets and food stands to gather food that otherwise would go to waste – no funding this year and a 2020 request of $20,000.
“One in five children in Jackson County is food insecure,” Executive Director Lisa Ousley said.
• River of Refuge, which several years ago turned the old Parkland Hospital on Raytown Road into a transitional housing facility for families trying to get out of pay-by-the-week hotels – $60,250 in 2019 and a request for $92,300 in 2020.
Executive Director Stephanie Keck said River of Refuge is the only group in the area able to handle large families, and she mentioned a mother, father and seven children who until recently had been crammed into a single hotel room.
Client families have to have children in the home, all the adults have to be working, and family members have to be off drugs and alcohol. She said the group has been highly successful is helping families save money and move into their own apartments.
“A lot of people,” she said, “don’t realize that a lot of the homeless are working.”