If you don't have a baby or toddler, you may not be aware that diapers can cost more than $100 a month per child.
That's a lot of money, especially for the 20 percent of young Billings families who live in poverty.
Since Jan. 1, Family Promise of Yellowstone County has supplied diapers for a week or more to 200 local families who couldn't afford this baby essential. Most of those are working families, which made the need for diapers more urgent, according to Lisa Donnot, Family Promise executive director. Working parents have to provide a supply of diapers and wipes when leaving infants and toddlers at daycare centers. Donnot and Family Promise staff have helped parents who didn't have the money to buy diapers so they could keep their child in daycare, so the parent could keep working. It's a long way between paydays for low-wage parents.
"There is such a community need for diapers," Donnot told The Gazette this week. "It's expensive to keep a child healthy in diapers."
Donnot has heard disturbing accounts of how impoverished parents tried to save money on diapers by drying them out for reuse or changing the diapers less often. Both are bad ideas for the baby's health.
Fortunately, Family Promise has a diaper bank that helps out individual families and shares diapers with other local charitable organizations and daycare centers serving low-income families.
Of course, diapers are far from the only expense of having a new baby. That's why United Way of Yellowstone County is hosting a baby shower on its Day of Action, June 21.
Companies, groups and individuals are invited to collect essential baby items (see wish list below) and deliver them between 9 and 10 a.m. on June 21, to United Way, 2172 Overland Ave. Donors are invited to stay for refreshments and information on child poverty in Yellowstone County.
The gifts will be sorted and donated to needy local families through the Best Beginnings Coalition members' home visiting programs. The members include Family Tree Center, Family Support Network, Young Families/Early Head Start and Billings YWCA.
Diapers given at the United Way baby shower will be used to match a First Interstate Bank Centennial Youth Grant of up to $1,000. All donations to this FIB diaper challenge will be given to the community diaper bank housed at Family Promise of Yellowstone Valley.
"Lack of access to basic baby items can put a lot of pressure on parents," United Way CEO Carol Burton said in a press release. "If we're going to ensure children in our community have what they need to be successful, the work has to start early and their families need our support."
The United Way baby shower on the first day of summer is a wonderful way for the community to support our youngest members. One in five Billings children ages 0-5 lives in poverty. These little ones deserve a good start in life, and their parents may need help to provide it.
Please consider doing some baby gift shopping over the coming week and donating to the June 21 community shower. For more information, go online to www.unitedwayyellowstone.org/baby-shower-2019.