Understanding diaper need in under-resourced communities: a Durham County, North Carolina case study

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Kelley Erin Carpenter Massengale (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Robert Strack

Abstract: For millions of Americans the choice between food for their family or allowing their young child to sit in a dirty diaper is a daily struggle. Across the United States, 9.1 million American families are living in poverty. For low-income families with young children, the cost of diapers is a significant expense for which there is no federal assistance. Families experience diaper need when they are forced to make decisions to reduce the allocation of household finances towards basic needs such as housing, utilities, food, or soap, to instead purchase diapers. The consequences of diaper need affect families economically, socially, physically, and emotionally. Diaper banks work to address diaper need by providing low-income parents and caregivers with the basic need of diapers so that they may change their children’s diapers as often as needed to achieve and maintain health and well-being. The peer-reviewed literature about diaper need and diaper banks is limited in quantity and scope. Headquartered in Durham, North Carolina, the Diaper Bank of North Carolina provides local families in need with a supplemental supply of free, disposal diapers. Using a case study approach, this dissertation will examine the work of the Diaper Bank of North Carolina to meet diaper need in a community, assess the unmet needs of recipients and offer insights/recommendations to inform the work of diaper banks in other locations. This dissertation documented a case study of diaper need in Durham County, North Carolina by triangulating qualitative and quantitative findings from a variety of data sources. Community-based organization staff members (n=9) and diaper recipient families (n=15) participated in face-to-face interviews. Diaper recipient families (n=396) completed paper surveys at the time they received diapers. It was estimated that 10,415 children under the age of four in Durham County were at risk for the experience of diaper need given their families’ annual household incomes. Of these children, 982 were served by the diaper bank. Findings revealed that more than 60% of diaper recipients incorrectly reported that the Diaper Bank of North Carolina was sponsored by the government and/or diaper manufacturers rather than existing as a volunteer-run organization relying on community donations. Of diaper recipient families, 40% felt the quantity of diapers received was “not enough” whereas 60% of families felt the number was “just right.” Families whose youngest child was older than 1 year of age or who did not experience diaper need after receiving a monthly supplemental supply of 50 diapers, were statistically significantly more likely to report the number of diapers received met their needs. Most families (77%), needed additional diapers beyond the supply provided, reporting a median of 13 additional diapers per child per month. Findings are relevant for communities looking to institute or modify services to address diaper need.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2017
Child health, Diaper bank, Diaper need, Poverty, Program improvement
Low-income parents $z North Carolina $z Durham
Poor children $z North Carolina $z Durham
Diapers $x Economic aspects
Family services $z North Carolina $z Durham
Child welfare $z North Carolina $z Durham
Poor $z Services for $z North Carolina $z Durham

Email this document to