The National Diaper Bank Network (NDBN) marked Diaper Need Awareness Week by co-sponsoring a panel about the missing safety net for young children with LA Diaper Drive. The UCLA School of Nursing was host for the event.
"The conditions kids grow up in vary enormously – within just a few miles," said Megan Aubrey, vice president of development at Children's Institute, Inc., a non-profit serving more than 20,000 vulnerable children and families in Los Angeles County and an agency that distributes diapers with LA Diaper Drive. She said that being able to distribute diapers drew parents in to services, such as parenting classes, that made an enormous difference in their children's development.
Jessica Bartholow remembers turning her dirty clothes inside out when she was a child because her family didn't have laundry detergent. Today she is a legislative advocate at the Western Center on Law and Poverty and advocates for better support for low-income families in California. Jessica, like many panelists, talked about the stigma attached to poverty and the misconception that the safety net is truly "a hammock."
In every state, families on public assistance live well below the federal poverty level.
NDBN Executive Director Joanne Goldblum noted that the stigma faced by low-income parents makes it difficult for them to advocate for themselves. Joanne also talked about her own experience as a social worker, working with families who didn't have soap, toothpaste, cleaning products or diapers. Most children protection cases don't involve abuse, Joanne noted, but "neglect." Children were living in conditions considered neglectful because their parents could not afford hygiene products.
"Risk-taking behaviors in adolescents often have their roots in early childhood," said Angela Hudson, PNP, FNP, an assistant professor of nursing at UCLA where she teaches maternity-newborn nursing. Part of a health-care providers job is to ask about basic needs, like food security, she added.
The panel was moderated by KTLA's Courtney Friel. "We hope you learned something," Friel concluded. "And we hope you'll do something."