Girl Scout Troop #57 made a generous donation of diapers and wipes for the 2022 Diaper Drive.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and surging inflation, many Chesterfield households are finding it increasingly difficult to afford essential items, such as disposable diapers for their children.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, parents can expect to spend around $936 on diapers in the first year of their child’s life. That averages out to $18 a week, and rising costs in the current economic climate are putting considerable pressure on family budgets.
“The need for those items stays the same, but the ability for families access to these needs has been a struggle,” said Ashley Rogers, coordinator for Families First, a program that serves expectant and first-time parents in Chesterfield and Colonial Heights.
For the past nine years, Families First and another county government initiative, the Infant and Toddler Connection of Chesterfield (ITC), have collaborated to support local households by collecting donations of diapers and baby wipes from the community.
During the 2022 Diaper Drive, Chesterfield residents exceeded the goal of 50,000 diapers and broke the record for diapers donated in a single year. They also contributed 200 packages of wipes.
“Overall families have been hit hard with so many different things and we have seen a big increase in the need for diapers and wipes,” said Leslie Pakula, the county’s Infant program manager.
The annual Diaper Drive is just one of the ways Families First and the Infant and Toddler Connection assist families in Chesterfield and Colonial Heights.
Families First focuses on parental and infant mental health through support with parent-child interactions and cultivating a safe, nurturing home environment. It offers services such as age-appropriate parenting information and developmental screenings and provides access to community resources and referrals.
Families First works with families until the child is enrolled in school (age 5). The program promotes early childhood development through literacy and access to books. Families First hosts book drives and gathers other resources for new students entering school.
The Infant and Toddler Connection provides early intervention and support for children from birth to age 3 who have a delay in development or a diagnosed condition that delays development. It provides access to physical therapy, speech therapy and developmental therapy, striving to ensure every child receives the care they need in a timely manner.
ITC also works to provide families in need with essential items, such as baby formula, or refer them to places where they can get assistance.
“The faster someone receives that support, the more likely they are to be able to follow through and see a positive outcome,” Rogers said. “Every family deserves that respectful interaction and we want to support that.”
To reach Families First, call 804-318-8648.
If you have a child age 3 or younger and are concerned about their development, contact ITC at 804-768-7205 for a free intake and assessment of the child’s needs.
This blog post was written by Communications and Media summer intern Michael Senter, who is a rising senior at Randolph-Macon College.