Program Boosts Diaper Supplies At Hartford Agencies
By VANESSA DE LA TORRE, Courant Staff Writer
April 22, 2008
Two weeks ago, a truckload of free diapers was delivered to the city of Hartford's Maternal & Child Health Division.
In the eyes of Evelyn Guzman, whose clients sometimes struggle to pay for basic needs, it was a gift that couldn't be over-appreciated.
"That's like major help here," said Guzman, a project supervisor for the division, which oversees the Maternal Infant Outreach Program. Usually, mothers in the program may need to contemplate, " 'Do I buy food with my money, or diapers?' So you go with food, and you have a child sitting in a diaper longer than he should be sitting in."
Since April 8, six social service providers in Hartford, including the city's Maternal Infant Outreach Program, have been receiving diapers paid for by the state Department of Children and Families. The purpose, said DCF spokesman Gary Kleeblatt, is to prevent child neglect before it is reported to the agency.
Over the next two years, DCF will give a total of $300,000 to diaper banks in the Hartford, Bridgeport and New Haven areas, Kleeblatt said. State Sen. Toni Harp, D-New Haven, pushed for the funds in a bill last year designed to subsidize the cost of disposable diapers for children living in poverty.
Hartford's Maternal Infant Outreach Program requested and received roughly 1,200 diapers in the first delivery — enough for a month's supply for the 120 children that the program serves, Guzman said.
The monthly cost of a baby's diapers can reach about $100, and neither food stamps nor vouchers from the Women, Infants, and Children Program can be used to buy diapers. In the worst cases, that means a baby can be forced to sit in a single diaper for a day or longer, leading to rashes, sores and sometimes serious medical complications.
The Diaper Bank, a nonprofit group that has been operating out of New Haven since 2004, will be in charge of distributing the diapers among a network of 57 social service providers in the state, including the six agencies in Hartford. In all, about 100,000 free diapers will be doled out each month, said Janet Alfano, the group's operations manager.
The money from DCF enabled The Diaper Bank to finally expand into Hartford and Bridgeport, Alfano said. "Certainly we know the need is there."
People in Hartford who are interested in getting diapers need to fill out an application at one of these providers:
•Family Life Education Inc., 39 Grace St., 860-233-9700
Other nonprofit groups interested in joining the diaper distribution network should call The Diaper Bank at 203-934-7009, or visit www.thediaperbank.org to download an application. For an agency to qualify, at least 60 percent of the people it serves need to live in poverty.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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