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Week brings awareness to diaper need in Skagit County

September 24, 2018

Skagit County Commissioners (front, left to right) Ron Wesen, Kenneth Dahlstedt and Lisa Janicki approved a proclamation recognizing Sept. 24-30 as Diaper Need Awareness Week at the Skagit County Commissioners' Office on Sept. 18 following a presentation by Diaper Bank of Skagit County Director Calista Scott (back, center). Scott's husband Dean Scott stands to her left, while Community Action of Skagit County dietitian Diane Marx stands to her right.

MOUNT VERNON — The Skagit County commissioners unanimously approved Sept. 24-30 as Diaper Need Awareness Week in the county as part of an effort to shed light on one of poverty’s hidden consequences.

Diaper need is defined as the lack of a sufficient supply of diapers to keep a baby clean, dry and healthy, according to the National Diaper Bank Network. The need affects one in three U.S. families.

Commissioners Ken Dahlstedt, Lisa Janicki and Ron Wesen signed the proclamation Tuesday following a presentation by Diaper Bank of Skagit County Director Calista Scott.

The national network created Diaper Need Awareness Week to raise attention about the issue and spearhead efforts to end diaper need.

In Skagit County, Scott is answering that call.

Scott launched the Diaper Bank of Skagit County with her husband Dean Scott in 2016. The two run the nonprofit out of their La Conner home, supplying about 7,000 diapers a month to community organizations.

Since its inception, the diaper bank has distributed 135,000 diapers countywide.

As a member of the national network and a nonprofit, Dean Scott said he and his wife are able to purchase diapers online for 15 cents each.

At retail stores, families might spend 50 cents or more per diaper. When babies go through 50 diapers a week, that can amount to $80 to $100 a month — up to 6 percent of a full-time, minimum wage worker’s annual income, Dean Scott said.

“When parents can’t afford diapers, babies end up going unchanged for longer than they should,” Calista Scott said.

This can result in a number of consequences.

A 2013 Yale University study found leaving babies in soiled diapers can cause diaper rash and urinary tract infections, as well as increase the likelihood that mothers will suffer from mental health and behavioral problems.

“A wet baby is a cold baby and a cold baby cries,” Calista Scott said.

The only federal assistance program that can be used to purchase diapers is Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, which provides temporary cash for Washington state residents who are responsible for the care of children or who are pregnant.

However, a family of three with no income would receive a monthly grant of $569. For families who have to pay for rent, utilities, transportation, clothing and other basic needs, $569 leaves little to no funds for diapers, according to the National Diaper Bank Network.

Other federal assistance programs for low-income individuals and families, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Women, Infants and Children (WIC), do not cover diapers.

But in Skagit County, WIC recipients can receive packages of diapers through the Diaper Bank of Skagit County.

The Diaper Bank of Skagit County donates 85 percent of its diapers to WIC programs in Mount Vernon, Anacortes and Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, Calista Scott said.

The rest are delivered to the Swinomish’s didgwálič Wellness Center, the Susan Wilbur Early Education Center Preschool and the Skagit Preschool and Resource Center.

Calista Scott said she hopes the diaper bank will be able to partner with the Sedro-Woolley WIC program and child care providers, but that will depend on increased donations.

Donations can be made through the bank’s PayPal or Facebook page. The bank also welcomes donations of clean diapers, as well as unopened containers of wipes.

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