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Diaper Bank To Get Help From Female Inmates

Tana Weingartner
Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank provides diapers to service providers to assist low-income families.

Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank is getting a new crop of volunteers: inmates from the Hamilton County Justice Center. Under a partnership, female inmates can get their sentences reduced by participating in work details with the diaper bank.

Sweet Cheeks CEO & Founder Megan Fischer says the partnership will allow the non-profit to reach more people.

"We're excited to begin working with the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office to increase our impact and reach even more families," Fischer says. "With a current wait list of 35 social service agencies in Greater Cincinnati and more than 12,000 babies still experiencing diaper need, this work detail has the potential to positively affect families in the community for years to come."

Fischer says the agency relies heavily on volunteers so this potential new help source will help the diaper bank reach more people. Five inmate details are being created to do the bundling work, according to the sheriff's office. It will be done in the jail's laundry area where female inmates already do other work detail programs.

Fischer adds this partnership will help her organization expand its reach to post-jail re-entry programs. Inmates who volunteer for diaper bundling will be provided with information on how to access Sweet Cheeks' diapers after their release should they need them.

"As far as I know this is the first partnership like this," Fischer says. "We're really excited to be the first and be partnering with the Hamilton County Sheriff's Department to do it, and we think this is going to be something that's going to become a best-in-class model for diaper banks all over the country."

The diaper bank will also stock deputies' patrol cars with bundles of diapers that may be distributed as needed. The sheriff's office is donating $10,000 from seized drug funds to Sweet Cheeks. 

Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank provides free diapers to low-income families via a variety of social service and government agencies. It has handed out more than a million diapers since getting off the ground in 2016. It serves Hamilton, Clermont, Butler, Warren, and Brown counties in Ohio; Kenton, Campbell, and Boone counties in Kentucky; and Dearborn County in Indiana.

Sweet Cheeks only distributes disposable diapers. The organization offers this explanationon its website.

While cloth diapers may save money in the long term, they require an initial investment of money and time that many low-income families can't afford. To use cloth diapers a family must either hire a diaper service at a monthly charge or have reliable access to laundry facilities. Sometimes people living in poverty do not have affordable access to washing facilities or detergent. Many laundromats prohibit the washing of cloth diapers in their machines for sanitary reasons. The majority of licensed daycare centers do not accept cloth diapers, and require parents and caregivers to provide a steady supply of disposable diapers. A child being turned away from a daycare center can mean a day of missed work for a parent and a cut to their already low income.

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.