Project Update: Helping Poverty-Stricken Babies in the Fox Valley

As the old saying goes, it takes a village.

Raising children requires a network of support, and for many parents, the default is to reach out to extended family and friends.

Sometimes, though, this village is nonexistent and creates a cyclical web of struggles for families, said Wendy Schwalbe of  Family Services-Parent Connection.

An example of a family we work with is a single young mom who is estranged from her family,” Wendy said. “Her child has significant health issues that require mom to take the child to Milwaukee every month. She has lost her job due to missing work for all of the medical appointments. The child was enrolled in a childcare but can no longer go back because of a $900.00 unpaid bill. Since she lost her job, she cannot pay her rent. It is a cycle for this mom that she can’t seem to get out of and the lack of support is the driving issue to her situation.”

Family Services-Parent Connection is one of Jake’s Diapers Diaper Drop partners and serves families in the greater Oshkosh, WI, area. The organization’s office is the United Way – Hooper building in Oshkosh, located in a lower socioeconomic neighborhood.

“Our day starts with a team member meeting first-time parents at the local hospitals before they go home with their new baby,” Wendy said. “Families are assessed for needs and offered home visiting if they qualify.”

Certain considerations that qualify families for the organization’s help include:

  • young parents under 21
  • single parents
  • incomplete high school education
  • smoking in the home
  • Veteran
  • parent or child with a disability
  • multiple births (twins ect.),
  • past interactions with Child Protective Services
  • low income
  • untreated mental health
  • and incarceration.

Through Family Services – Parent Connections, Family Support specialists educate on child development, make referrals to community resources, administer assessments for stress, depression, child development, and parent-child bonding.

Among those resources are, of course, diaper donations through Jake’s Diapers partnership with the group.

“The diapers that we receive and hand out to families has been a life-saver,” Wendy said. “Many of the families have to choose between buying diapers, paying a bill or feeding their family. the gift of diapers makes the choice a little easier.”