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As Utah diaper needs grow, help is available

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Alex Gonzalez

(Utah News Connection) Inadequate diaper supply can jeopardize Utahn's ability to advance financially. That is according to Vic Velivis, the founder and executive director of the Utah Diaper Bank

Velivis was instrumental in helping the Community Action Partnership of Utah apply for a grant earlier this year from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that'll make more diapers available in the Beehive State. 

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He added that a shortage of diapers can have immediate effects on infants - such as increased diaper rash, contracting urinary tract infections and toxic stress. But there are also secondary effects like the emotional toll it takes on parents. 

He said the new grant will not only help mitigate those impacts, but also monitor the changes more diapers in Utah are having. 

"Does it allow people to spend more money on food?" asked Velivis. "How many days of work did they used to miss, that they don't miss anymore? Are they able to use daycare and they weren't before because they didn't have diapers?"

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One in three families across the United States doesn't have enough diapers to meet their baby's needs, according to the Administration of Children and Families. 

Velivis said that means many re-use diapers or leave them on longer than recommended. 

A coalition of Utah community action agencies and diaper banks is looking at the issue "as part of a whole-family approach," and invite struggling households to apply for assistance. 

Ted Chalfant is co-founder of the Little Lambs Foundation for Kids in Logan. Before the pandemic, his non-profit organization was helping just over 80 families and more than 110 babies with supplemental diapers. 

Today, their reach has grown substantially - as they're up to almost 600 families and just under 940 babies. 

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Chalfant said it is important for Utah families who are struggling with diaper needs to also have access to what he calls wrap-around services. 

As one of the partners of the Utah Diaper Demonstration and Research Project, Chalfant said no family should have to go without basic essentials. 

"Even pre-DDRP (Dipaer Demonstration and Research Project) funding," said Chalfant, "our goal has always been to make sure that every single family that comes to us for assistance, that qualifies, has those basic necessities that no family should ever have to go without."

Chalfant said the grant allows them to help families with 120 supplemental diapers, typically enough to last a family about 10 to 12 days. 

He said that help could mean parents can buy other essentials or cover costs they otherwise couldn't afford.