Imagine, as a parent, you are down to your last diaper without the means to buy another one. For too many families in our region, this is their reality.
More than 46,000 children under the age of 4 live in poverty in King County. To diaper all of these children for one year would cost a staggering $55 million. These costs are why, for many parents, finding a way to provide enough diapers for their children is even more difficult than food security.
“We think about this all the time,” says Cindy Kitts, Board of Directors Vice Chair at Babies of Homelessness (BoH). “We work constantly to deliver supplies to families with young children, to provide relief from the extreme stress caused by not having the basic necessities.”
Since 2016, BoH has served more than 16,000 children by delivering diapers, pull-ups, formula, and wipes throughout King and Snohomish counties. Last year, BoH delivered its one-millionth diaper; this year alone, BoH will give away 600,000+ diapers.
BoH could not accomplish this without an ongoing partnership with Slalom, a global consulting firm headquartered in Seattle. Slalom has provided BoH with the tools needed to serve the community and grow its capabilities as demand has skyrocketed since 2019.
Katie Forrest, Executive Director at BoH, says, “When we first started, we tracked everything manually, but this wasn’t sustainable as we continued to grow. However, the technology we needed, such as CRM software, would have been a significant financial investment for a young nonprofit like ours. That’s why our partnership with Slalom is so essential. Our relationship started at the perfect time, too, just as the need for our services started to ramp up. We went from serving 30 families a month to hundreds, and it would have been very difficult to handle this volume without the applications that Slalom built.”
Salesforce also helps us track important data needed to apply for grants and other funding. It really has had a huge impact on nearly all that we do.”
For Slalom, this partnership has been an outlet for its consultants to lend their technology and business expertise to help a vital nonprofit in the community.
Katie Casella, Senior Consultant at Slalom, appreciates the opportunity to give back. “It’s an absolute pleasure working with and supporting the team at Babies of Homelessness. Supporting the unhoused community has been a core issue I have always cared about. Most of the opportunities I had to make a difference before starting this project were the small impacts an individual can make by sparing a few bucks or sharing a meal.”
“However, in the last year, I have been given the opportunity to work with the Babies of Homelessness organization to design and build out their Salesforce system, which directly supports thousands of families in need. I am able to make a big impact in a space I care deeply about. Supporting the team has been hugely rewarding and a real pleasure.”
“We are amazed by the quality of help we have received from Slalom,” said Kitts. “As a nonprofit, we, along with many other organizations, have seen a sharp drop in financial support due to many factors, including inflation, loss of jobs in the tech industry, and the draining effects of the pandemic. However, Slalom has continued to stand alongside us through the years and provide services and support, which is very much appreciated.”
Slalom’s Partners for Good program provides consulting expertise, volunteer hours, and financial resources to organizations that have an outsized impact on the local community. Through the program, Slalom has donated 600 hours to support BoH’s intake process and has supported 52 other Puget Sound area nonprofits.
Next, Slalom will support BoH’s efforts to implement a system for families to reorder diapers, formula, and wipes using text messaging.
About Babies of Homelessness
Babies of Homelessness is one of three officially acknowledged diaper banks in the greater Seattle area and the only diaper bank recognized by the National Diaper Bank Network for Snohomish County. BoH delivers baby necessities through three programs: direct service, partner distribution, and mobile service – all of which are tracked through its computer system.
Direct Service: Families experiencing homelessness–living in cars, tent cities, encampments, tiny homes, motels, shelters, RVs, or couch surfing–call the intake line and order diapers, wipes, and formula in preferred sizes and brands. BoH delivers these orders directly to families, wherever they are.
Partner Distribution: BoH supplies bulk quantities of diapers, wipes, and formula to community partner agencies because clients needing help with diapers also have other needs. BoH’s easy ordering process and delivery service allow case managers to focus on providing top-notch case management without worrying about procuring and storing diapers or writing thank you notes and tax receipts.
Mobile Pickup Service: Every month, families can call the intake line, place an order, then pick up their supplies at one of four bus-accessible locations in Everett, Bellevue, Seattle, or Kent. BoH provides a month’s worth of diapers, along with wipes and formula if needed, so families do not have to worry about where the next diaper comes from.
Background on Diaper Need
According to the National Diaper Bank Network, one in three families do not have enough diapers for their kids. The inability to provide enough clean diapers is a silent struggle. Diapers cost around $100 a month, making them the 4th highest expense for low-income families. Unlike food and clothing, diapers cannot be rationed or modified. Diapers are also an expense that doesn’t qualify for federal aid under most public assistance programs, including food stamps. Some lawmakers do not even recognize diapers as a basic need, as evidenced by diapers being taxed in Washington state as a luxury item, which adds 10% to the cost.
Nationwide, studies have found that the inability to afford fresh diapers for their baby is associated with more mental health and stress-related problems than being unable to provide food or housing.
- Parents skip meals to pay for diapers.
- Parents use garbage bags or towels instead of diapers.
- Parents wash out dirty diapers and reuse them to extend their use. This can lead to health issues, from diaper rash to meningitis.
By delivering diapers to families who otherwise could not afford them, Babies of Homelessness knows they are only solving one of the many issues that affect families in poverty. However, something as simple as having enough diapers can contribute to better sleep for parents and children, help parents get to work or school because they can place their child in daycare, relieve stress, and help parents care for their child’s most basic needs.