WestSide Baby in the News

WestSide Baby in the News

WA bill proposes subsidy to help some families buy diapers

Families receiving TANF could get more money for diapers if Senate Bill 5838 passes in the Legislature.

Crosscut | March 1, 2022

Sequoia Dolan considers herself Wonder Woman. She gets up before 6:30 a.m., prepares breakfast for her children, drops her son off at school, waits at the bus stop with her daughter and then spends time with her 2-year-old. Her little one is still in diapers, which may become easier for her to afford if Washington lawmakers can pass Senate Bill 5838, which would give extra money to families trying to make ends meet.

To get through the month, Dolan typically buys a box of diapers from Costco and another from Safeway before heading to a local diaper bank. These purchases can rack up a bill of more than $80, which is more than 10% of what she gets monthly from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, a federal program that gives cash to those in needDolan has found herself scouring her car for a spare diaper to hold her over before she picks up more from the diaper bank. 

“I’m rocking this,” she said. “It’s just the financial part where I’m, like, nail-biting.” 

If the Legislature passes Senate Bill 5838, which would need to move out of the House by March 4, Dolan and other families who are on TANF and have children under 3 years old could get additional money to help pay for child-related needs like diapers.

Bravo! Babies’ bottoms will benefit from budget boost for diapers

The Olympian | February 27, 2022
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As all babies will tell you — at the top of their lungs — soggy diapers are miserable, and diaper rash hurts a lot.

So we are pleased to see that both the state Senate and House proposed budgets include funding for diapers for very low income families that receive monthly grants from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.

Diapers cost up to $100 a month. And according to WestSide Baby, a King County nonprofit diaper bank, “When families cannot afford diapers, parents replace them with paper towels, plastic bags, or may re-use dirty diapers. Mothers in this situation are more likely to suffer from maternal depression and other mental health issues.”

Also, nearly all childcare providers require that parents provide diapers. No diapers, no child care. No child care, no job.

Toni Sarge, director of public affairs for WestSide Baby, says she and other nonprofit diaper banks from around the state reached out to legislators and persuaded Rep. Noel Frame, D-Ballard, and Sen. T’wina Nobles, D-Fircrest, to sponsor The End Diaper Need Act to add money for diapers to TANF grants for parents with children under 3 years old. Then Sarge and her allies organized a campaign that included having over 250 people sign up to support the bills when they were scheduled for public hearings. One of their partners is the Olympia based nonprofit Dry Tikes and Wet Wipes.

“It’s huge that we’re in both budgets,” Sarge marvels. The Senate is calling for a $100 a month increase; the House for $50. The final budget will likely be somewhere in between.

The proposed House budget includes a solid list of investments in K-12 schools, TANF, child care, shelter, housing, public health, food assistance, mental health, long-term care, post-secondary education and job training. Taken together, they will help many of the estimated 1.7 million Washingtonians who, according to Inslee, “still do not have enough resources or income to maintain consistent housing, access healthy food, pay utility bills or meet other basic needs.” That estimated number predates the pandemic, and is almost certainly higher now.

WestSide Baby welcomes 1 million more diapers to address bottomless need

The West Seattle Blog | November 18, 2021
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What a relief! WestSide Baby has welcomed shipments totaling 1 million diapers this past week, partly thanks to pandemic relief – with $225,000 received from the City of Seattle’s Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Fund Diaper Distribution program. We were at the West Seattleite-founded nonprofit’s White Center hub this morning as the final installment arrived. Yet as impressive as a million diapers sounds, the need is even greater.

Last year alone, WestSide Baby provided families with a record-high number of diapers – 2.4 million. Executive director Sarah Cody Roth notes, “In King County, 23% of families could not afford enough diapers and the devastating economic impacts of COVID have only widened that gap.” The nonprofit has strong community support, but the City’s contribution has made a huge difference. West Seattle/South Park City Councilmember Lisa Herbold, who chairs the Public Safety and Human Services Committee, calls WS Baby “a regional treasure … helping low-income families survive through the pandemic.” Also invaluably helpful, WestSide Baby says, was its WC neighbor La Mexicana, which temporarily donated warehouse space to help store all those diapers. Now they’re racing to distribute them quickly!

Diaper Delivery to Seattle Housing Authority

“We have never done anything this big before – we are coordinating the distribution of 700,000 diapers over the next 4 weeks, one of the quickest and largest distributions we have ever done, all in response to emergency need this winter,” said Will Owen, WS Baby’s donation and logistics manager.

Here’s how you can help: Support WS Baby’s holiday-season JOY campaign – have a diaper drive, donate to one, and/or donate money so the purchases – and distributions! – can continue. Follow the link to see what else is on their most-needed list – such as winter coats, warm hats and gloves, and baby hygiene items.

Diapers Are the Latest Pandemic Shortage

The New York Times | October 3, 2021
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Amanda Trussell, the mother of a 2-year-old boy, said that diapers had been hard to find near her home in Junction City, Kan., even before the pandemic started and that store shelves had only gotten more empty in the last year and a half.

“At one point, we went to three or four different stores to find a pack and had to settle on a size bigger because there were just none in his size,” she said on Saturday.

When her family runs low on diapers, Ms. Trussell, 24, puts her son in a reusable cloth diaper. That’s why she hasn’t had to go to a diaper bank, which offers supplies to low-income parents.

Diaper banks across the country have reported recent surges in families who couldn’t afford diapers. WestSide Baby, which is based in Seattle, distributed 2.4 million diapers last year, up 60 percent from 1.5 million in 2019, according to Sarah Cody Roth, the organization’s executive director. WestSide Baby is on track this year to meet or exceed last year’s total, she said.

Diapers have become more expensive, hurting low-income families that were already struggling because of the pandemic’s economic effects.Credit…Liz Martin/The Gazette, via Associated Press

Diaper banks in Oklahoma and Pennsylvania have reported similar trends. Many banks give families 50 diapers per month, which covers about two weeks, said Cathy Battle, the executive director of the Western Pennsylvania Diaper Bank. That’s often not enough for families who can’t afford diapers.

A lack of diapers can seriously harm a family’s physical and mental health, said Megan V. Smith, the senior director of community health transformation at the Connecticut Hospital Association. Many parents who can’t afford diapers feel like ineffective caregivers, she said.

“If you have to worry about where you’re going to get the next diaper, you can’t focus on singing and reading and playing with your child,” said Dr. Smith, who has researched diaper need and maternal mental health.

Expanded child tax credit to reach 1.4 million Washington children, Rep. DelBene says

The Seattle Times | June 21, 2021
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In a news briefing with DelBene last week, a member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers said there is concern about making sure the public is aware of the tax benefit.

About 80% of families are expected to get their tax credits through direct deposit, according to White House economic adviser Heather Boushey, meaning others will have to keep an eye on the mail for payment.

The expanded tax credit will be fully refundable. Families can receive the full amount they’re eligible for as a check, if their income isn’t high enough to receive a large enough tax offset. According to DelBene, this will allow the payments to reach 1.4 million children in Washington, including 642,000 children of color.

At Monday’s news conference, Sarah Cody Roth, of WestSide Baby, highlighted one specific area where the tax credit would help.

Unlike … food and rent, there is no public assistance for low-income families to purchase diapers, which can run from $80 to $100, per month, per child,” said Cody Roth, executive director of the King County organization that distributes diapers, clothes and other needed items.

Nearly one in four families with young children in King County and one in three Black, Indigenous, and people of color families were unable to access an adequate supply of diapers before the pandemic, according to Cody Roth.

“Families need direct cash support now, and continuing into the future, because they have a basic right to be able to meet their basic needs,” she said. Continue reading…

More stories from Child Tax Credit Awareness Day:

Expanded child tax credit to reach 1.4 million Washington children
The Daily World – Northwest News

Senator Murray on Child Tax Credit Awareness Day: Help is On the Way for Washington State Families

WestSide Baby assisting victims of recent apartment fire in Des Moines

The Waterland Blog | June 10, 2021
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WestSide Baby was grateful to quickly respond to the need for diapers, wipes, and formula after an apartment fire in Des Moines, displacing families from 27 apartments. Special thanks to the City’s Human Services Advisory Committee for their partnership in this effort. Continue reading…

Photo courtesy City of Des Moines

Deadline near to file for enhanced child credit

Kiro 7 News | May 12, 2021
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Children under 6 will qualify for as much a $300 a month. Kids aged 6-17 are eligible for up to $250 per month.

“This help for me is important. I think it can help to me and my family very much. Because the baby stuff is so expensive,” said Romero

The expensive baby stuff includes diapers — the White Center Food Bank hands out thousands supplied by local nonprofit WestSide Baby.

“We know that families experiencing diaper need have had to miss school or work because they don’t have the required supply of diapers to send their child to daycare,” said Executive Director Sarah Cody Roth

The tax credit will help because public assistance like food stamps can’t be used to buy diapers.

City’s Finance and Housing Committee hears Seattleites’ opinions about spending federal relief funds

Real Change News | May 12, 2021
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Sarah Cody Roth, director of WestSide Baby, spoke up for working families with young children, pointing out that one in four families in King County were lacking money for diapers even before the pandemic.

“Unlike other basic needs, like food and rent, there is no public assistance for low-income families to purchase diapers. SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and WIC (the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children) cannot be used to purchase this essential item,” Roth said. According to Roth, WestSide Baby is the largest diaper bank in King County and has needed to increase its annual diaper distribution by 50% to keep up with community need during the pandemic. Roth said that bigger topics push aside things like diapers but that diapers are an essential item every family should have access to. Continue reading…

Diaper Wall

Too Many Moms Can’t Afford Diapers for Their Kids. On Mother’s Day, We Must Remember Their Need

TIME | May 6, 2021
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As we celebrate mothers this Mother’s Day, may we remember the holiday’s origins that recognized the maternal sacrifices necessary to keep children healthy. You can donate to a diaper bank in honor of those who have mothered, diapered and sacrificed for you. You can also advocate for diaper policies like the End Diaper Need Act of 2021 that would fund public diaper support, recognize diapers as a medical necessity and pave the way for diaper tax exemptions.

What better way of celebrating the mothers in your life than by equalizing the social and economic conditions of caregiving so that no mother must decide between her own basic needs and her children’s? That’s a gift that even the mother of Mother’s Day would have approved. Continue reading…

One State’s Plan to Ease the ‘Invisible’ Diaper Gap for Families

Route Fifty | May 5, 2021
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“We know diaper need is a very invisible issue for most folks until they’re in a situation where they experience it,” said Sarah Cody Roth, executive director of WestSide Baby, a Seattle-based nonprofit diaper bank that provides diapers, wipes and other essentials to families in need. “It is so incredibly prevalent, and it is a problem that without public investment, and without recognition, we cannot address on the scale we need to.”

This year, with the need exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, legislators in Washington state agreed. Lawmakers floated several diaper-related proposals during the legislative session, most notably a budget provision to provide certain low-income households with an $80 monthly diaper stipend.

That initiative, suggested to lawmakers by the advocacy wing at WestSide Baby, gained traction in the state legislature largely due to support from a newly formed Moms Caucus. The group of 16—12 women, four men—was spearheaded in part by Rep. Tana Senn, a Democrat from Mercer Island and the chair of the House Children, Youth and Families Committee. Continue reading…

Diaper Stipend Didn’t Make Washington Budget, But Diaper Banks and Cash Assistance Did

The Seattle Times | April 28, 2021
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Washington state lawmakers didn’t include a stipend for low-income parents to buy diapers in the new, two-year budget they approved over the weekend.

But the Legislature did include more than $50 million to boost cash assistance for families in need, plus $5 million for nonprofits that distribute donated diapers, funding the so-called “diaper banks” directly for the first time. Continue reading…

‘Humongous stress’ paying for diapers: Washington lawmakers consider $80 monthly stipend

The Seattle Times | April 22, 2021
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“Your mom instinct says, ‘My baby needs to be changed.’ But you only have three diapers left and you’re not getting money for another three days,” recalled Swart, 41, who lives in Clarkston, Asotin County, and whose youngest child is 7 months old.

Since COVID-19 hit, economic hardships have exacerbated such challenges, spurring state lawmakers to consider several budget actions and bills that would help low-income families with babies, including an action that would send certain households with kids under 3 years old an $80 monthly “diaper stipend.”

That multi-million dollar budget line, pitched to the Legislature by a Seattle nonprofit that donates diapers for distribution to struggling households, has advanced with support from a “Moms Caucus” that Rep. Tana Senn and more than dozen other House Democrats created this year (dads were allowed to join, and five did).

Diapers are “just one more humongous stress,” alongside rent, groceries, utilities and all the work involved with caring for a baby, and there are wide-ranging consequences when families can’t afford diapers, said Swart, who has served on the steering committee for Gov. Jay Inslee’s Poverty Reduction Work Group. Dirty bottoms can lead to rashes and infections, and running out of diapers can cause parents to miss work, because many child care providers require parents to supply diapers.

“When I started in the Legislature (in 2013) I was one of the only women with kids in elementary school. Now we have a bunch of moms with young children,” said Senn, D-Mercer Island. “So many issues are resonating.”

Washington would be the second state in the country with a diaper stipend, following California’s lead by providing the additional cash to households receiving help through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, known to many simply as welfare.

The House has included the diaper stipend in its proposed budget, while in the Senate lawmakers have discussed the possibility that Washington could exempt diaper purchases by all or some buyers from sales tax. Continue reading…

Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times
Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times
Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times
Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times

Some families have been unable to stock up on — or find — baby products. 

King 5 News | April 8, 2021
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West Side Baby, an organization that provides diapers, formula, cribs, and strollers to families, has been inundated with cries for help during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

In some cases, families under financial stress cannot afford products. In other cases, they’re having a hard time finding shelves stocked, said Sarah Cody Roth, the organization’s executive director.

“Demand is unprecedented,” explained Cody Roth. “Families that were already struggling to make ends meet day-to-day were really not able to stock up.”

Millions couldn’t afford diapers even before the pandemic now diaper banks can’t keep up

Seattle Times | March 6, 2021
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Dry baby bottoms: That’s the mission for these Seattle organizations

KUOW NPR | December 16, 2019
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“A baby can go through up to twelve diapers per day when they’re a newborn, and this can be a huge expense for families,” said Sarah Cody Roth, interim executive director of Westside Baby, a diaper bank in West King County.

Westside Baby partners with more than 100 organizations to supply car seats, cribs, diapers and other necessities to low-income families.

Cody Roth said diapers can cost a family up to about $100 per month, per child.

Parents who don’t have enough diapers might stretch the time between changes or may re-use dirty ones. That can cause stress and increase cases of diaper rash for babies.