Approximately 15 million US children live in poverty. Diapers are essential and expensive: the poorest families spend 14% of their income on infant diapers. Disproportionately impacted, low-income families spend twice as much as those who can buy diapers in bulk. Pediatricians can reduce economic strain on families’ through a novel diaper distribution program, and are well positioned to do so due to near universal access to low-income children.
Discounted diapers were purchased through the Jet Cares Program through Jet.com using a grant from the Government and Community Relations Department at Packard Children’s Hospital. Providers screened families with children 0-2 for diaper needs during appointments between Nov 2016-Jan 2017. Families screening positive for diaper needs received a 2-3 week supply of diapers. Parent participants completed a brief English or Spanish survey to collect demographic information, and assess diaper needs and purchase behaviors. Weekly data on diaper costs at Safeway, Target, and CVS Pharmacy were collected during the same time period.
20,000 diapers were distributed to 210 interested families. The estimated overall economic savings to clinic families over 2 months was $5,880; the average savings per participating family was $28 for a 2 week diaper supply. Annualized this program would save each family $728 per year.
We are currently exploring sustainable models of diaper distribution through the pediatric clinics, specifically selling the diapers to families at-cost, which is still more cost effective than purchasing retail.