Democratic Reps. Lee, DeLauro gather 23 co-sponsors for their End Diaper Need demonstration project
Providing access to clean diapers might not seem like a problem for many people or a priority for Congress. For low-income parents, however, shelling out $70 to $80 a month for the 8-12 diapers needed each day by infants and toddlers can, like other basics, be a stretch for the family budget.
Indeed, the State of the Babies Yearbook: 2019 reported that 23 percent of children under age 3—5 million of them—live in poverty, and just 20.6 percent of impoverished families with infants and toddlers receive assistance from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. In some communities there are volunteer organizations that collect clean diapers and repackage them for distribution to financially strapped families. But the need far exceeds the supply these organizations can lay their hands on.
Consequently, Democratic Reps. Barbara Lee of California and Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut last week introduced H.R. 1846, the End Diaper Need Act, an amendment to the Public Health Service Act. This would create a demonstration project, funded at $100 million, to distribute free diapers and diapering products “to help reduce the diaper need in low-income families and underserved communities.” This isn’t just a matter of convenience, but directly affects children’s health.
In a statement, the two congresswomen noted:
“One in three families experience diaper need, which often leads to negative health outcomes for vulnerable children. We also know that many low-income families and families of color spend twice as much on diapers for their children compared to families who have the means to buy diapers in bulk at a lower price,” said Congresswoman Lee. “Most child care centers won’t accept a child without an adequate supply of diapers, preventing low-income families from enrolling their child in child care and returning to work. These families should not have to choose between purchasing basic household needs and buying diapers. It is past time for our government to provide this basic need for millions of children. I am proud to introduce this bill to help ensure that all children have access to clean diapers and that everyday parents have the resources they need to support their families.”
“No family should have to choose between buying diapers for their child or buying groceries—but that is exactly the situation many families face every day,” said Congresswoman DeLauro. “Diapers are a matter of basic hygiene, and they are expensive. That is why we need to pass the End Diaper Need Act—so that families in need can get diapers and diapering supplies. Through this legislation, and as Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee that funds the Department of Health and Human Services, I will not back down from the fight to help working families.”
So far, 23 other Democrats are co-sponsors. Not a single House Republican has joined them. Although the act doesn’t need any Republicans to pass now that Democrats are in charge in the House of Representatives, as is the case with pretty much every Democrat-initiated bill, this one will no doubt face stubborn Republican resistance in the Senate. The only time right-wing politicians pretend to care about offspring is from conception to birth. Afterward, as far as they are concerned, children and their parents are on their own.