“Diaper need is a growing problem in our country,” according to the National Diaper Bank Network
.“A clean diaper means a happy baby, but according to new data from The NDBN Diaper Check 2023: Diaper Insecurity among U.S. Children and Families, 1 in 2 U.S. families cannot afford enough diapers to keep their infant or child clean, dry, and healthy.”
The Berkshire Community Diaper Project
, a member of the National Diaper Bank Network, has sought to alleviate diaper need locally since 2014. It was that year when Megan V. Smith, DrPH, assistant professor of psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine, gave a talk at the Austen Riggs Center on diaper need, highlighting evidence that lack of access to diapers has a profound effect on mother and child health, leading to increased problems with infection and illness in children, depression in mothers and interference with mother-child bonding in infancy. As it turns out, a few audience members at her talk were moved to action.
Inspired by and in response to Dr. Smith’s talk on diaper need, the Berkshire Community Diaper Project (BCDP) was formally organized in the fall of 2014 by Marie Rudden MD, associate faculty at the Austen Riggs Center; Jane G. Tillman, PhD, ABPP, a psychologist and director of the Erikson Institute at the Austen Riggs Center; and Elizabeth Weinberg, MD, a then psychiatrist at the Austen Riggs Center, with the goal of “raising funds to provide diapers for parents who struggle to afford them for their children” as stated on their Facebook page. Riggs clinical social worker Daltrey Turner, LICSW
, is the current president of the board of the Berkshire Community Diaper Project.
The seriousness and intractable nature of diaper need is often drastically underestimated. Food stamps (SNAP) and Women, Infants and Children (WIC) funds cannot be used for diapers, there are no major public health funding efforts directed toward this problem and lack of access to diapers can affect whether a child can attend preschool, whether a parent can use childcare and how a new mother copes with raising an infant.
While each year the distribution of diapers locally has increased (with 1.9 million diapers distributed throughout Berkshire County since BCDP’s inception), lately the need has been unprecedented. In 2022 the BCDP distributed 21.9% more diapers than in 2021 and this year distribution is up about 35% over 2022. Given the drastic increase in need, BCDP is searching for new funding sources; to donate, visit this webpage