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Health, Social, and Economic Outcomes Experienced by Families as a Result of Receiving Assistance from a Community-Based Diaper Bank

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Objectives This paper aims to describe low-income recipients of a community-based diaper bank and the multiple daily challenges they face. Our paper seeks to document the health, social, and financial outcomes recipients experienced after receiving assistance. Methods We surveyed families (n = 150) about their experiences receiving diapers from a diaper bank in the southeastern United States. Additionally, we conducted short, focused interviews with families (n = 15) about outcomes after receiving diapers. Results Families experience regularly a range of challenges meeting basic needs. These difficulties include high unmet needs for transportation, food, and nonfood essentials such as personal hygiene items. Families experiencing the greatest difficulty in paying utility or medical bills were significantly more likely to have a high level of diaper need compared to families facing these challenges less often (AORs ranging from 3.40 to 9.39). As a result of receiving diapers, families reported positive health, social, and economic outcomes. Families reported positive changes in parental mood; improved child health and happiness; increased opportunities for childcare, work, and school attendance; and the ability to divert household finances toward other basic needs, including utilities and medical care. Conclusions for Practice The monetary value of the supplemental provision of diapers is a small investment in affected families’ economic, social, and health outcomes. The positive effects continue far longer than the diapers provided. We demonstrate the social value of such an operation, and recommend the expansion of federal, state, and local safety net programs to help low-income families secure a steady supply of diapers.

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This study was supported by University of North Carolina at Greensboro. We thank Stephanie Paxton for her research assistance on this project, Melissa Lara and Paul Camarena for providing Spanish-language translations, and Valentina Giraldo for her assistance with data collection. Funding for this evaluation was provided by a 2014–2015 University of North Carolina at Greensboro Community-Based Research Grant, made possible by The Office of Leadership and Service Learning; Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and Creativity Office; and the Graduate School.

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Correspondence to Kelley E. C. Massengale.

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Massengale, K.E.C., Erausquin, J.T. & Old, M. Health, Social, and Economic Outcomes Experienced by Families as a Result of Receiving Assistance from a Community-Based Diaper Bank. Matern Child Health J 21, 1985–1994 (2017).

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