Getting cloth diapers to local families in need

Getting cloth diapers to local families in need

Many cloth diaper advocates and educators eventually find themselves wanting to help low-income families find and use reusable cloth diapers. It makes sense. Low-income families can save thousands of dollars by using cloth diapers. That said, they are often put off by the cost of the investment. One method for overcoming that is to set up a cloth diaper lending program.

There are a lot of legalities to lending diapers to families in need, and while the Real Diaper Association is a resource for putting more babies in cloth, it is not a set up to provide direct aid. Fortunately, we have learned from our amazing volunteers how to bring cloth diapers to those in need while still maintaining our role as educators.

Here's the framework for a good working model:

Existing agencies serving target low-income community + experienced cloth diaperers = cloth diaper program

Benefits of using this model:

  • Agency has liability insurance to distribute goods and services to clients.
  • Agency already has charitable status to qualify for donations.
  • Agency already qualifies recipients of aid.
  • You focus on your knowledge of diapering and connections within community.

If you want to get started during Real Diaper Week or at the Great Cloth Diaper Change, here's what you can do:

  1. Find and visit a local family support-focused social service agency[1].
    • Bring your cloth diapers and laundering handout.
    • Tell them how much money people save using cloth diapers.
    • Offer to do a free class about using cloth diapers for their interested clients.
    • Explain that their clients could receive donated diapers upon participation.
  2. Run the class and take a list of attendee names (and baby ages) so the agency knows who was educated and how to match donations to families.
  3. Collect diaper donations (within your Circle or through solicitations).
  4. Drop off donations at the agency and help them to distribute to people on the list.
  5. Offer a longer term relationship with agency to put together a more formal cloth diaper program.

More information about a starting a longer-term cloth diaper program is included in the interview I conducted with Circle Leader Megan Fernsler.  The videos of the interview are posted at the Diaper Aid Hub.

If you do work on this during Real Diaper Week, please tell us about it! Use hashtag #realdiapers on Twitter, post to the Diaper Aid Hub Facebook page, or write about it on your blog and join the Real Diaper Week Blog Hop!

Heather McNamara Executive Director, Real Diaper Association

[1] To prepare yourself for the discussion, read more about why cloth diapers ARE an option for low-income families.

(update: We now celebrate Real Diaper Week through School of Cloth in the Fall.)

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