I’ve taken my daughter's diapers for granted.
From what kind of diapers to use, to whose turn it is to change the epic blowout (again) -- diapers are a sore spot in our house. But luckily, we’ve never had to worry about our daughter having access to a diaper to keep her clean and healthy. Unfortunately, 1 in 3 American families can’t say the same. And that’s a big problem, because when families can’t afford diapers, it can put a baby’s health at risk. Not to mention that it can make it harder to access childcare too, and that can make it impossible for parents to get to work.
Diaper need is a vicious and stinky cycle that we can change.
This bill, introduced by US Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA) and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT) last month, would create a $100 million program charged with distributing free diapers and diapering products (including cloth diapering supplies, diaper cream, and wipes) to neighborhoods across the nation to help reduce the diaper need among families. The bill also defines diapers as “medically necessary” so that families can purchase them through health savings accounts and HRAs.
Why this bill? Because bottom line: diapers are a need. Period.
The inability to access diapers can force parents to keep their children in soiled diapers (exposing them to health risks) and can prevent them from enrolling their babies in childcare.
And families who experience diaper need have increased stress on employment and finances. In fact, one impact study showed that over half of parents with diaper need missed work or school because they didn’t have enough diapers when dropping their children off at childcare.That is NOT okay.
Further, many childcare facilities require/prefer that parents and guardians provide disposable diapers. That means that even with childcare assistance, a diaper need can impact a family’s access to childcare, and in turn, impact employment. Access to high-quality affordable childcare in this country is already a struggle. In the broken childcare market (where providers aren’t fairly compensated, families can't afford high quality care, PLUS a third of families are denied access to diapers), families often find themselves in a double bind without access to childcare if they don’t have enough diapers to get their child through the day!
As much as I’d love my five-month-old to be able to use the potty already, that’s just not an option. Diapers, no matter your preference of cloth or disposable, are a need that too many families are struggling with, and there aren’t many/any supports available. For example, did you know that there are no federally funded programs to help struggling families purchase diapers? SNAP and WIC are essential tools for aiding with food access, but they don't provide diapers.
We can and HAVE to do better.
Diapers are a basic human need AND a public health issue. No family should have to worry about the basic hygiene of their children.
Urge your member of Congress to co-sponsor the End Diaper Need Act of 2019 -- a bill that would make sure diapers aren’t out of reach for families in our communities and that parents don’t need to worry about keeping their children clean and healthy.