More Than 300 Organizations Urge Change to Diaper Policy
Gabriel Vasquez (Former Staff)Child Care Early Childhood Health
Washington – The Hygiene Assistance for Families of Infants and Toddlers Act (HR. 4055) received a boost of support today as more than 300 national and state organizations expressed their strong approval of the legislation.
Introduced by U.S. Reps. Keith Ellison (D-MN), and Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), the “DIAPER” bill directs the Department of Health and Human Services to provide grants to states to create demonstration projects to make diapers more affordable to low-income families. It also amends Title XI of the Social Security Act to exempt diaper benefits from the territorial payment ceiling.
“This legislation puts the developmental needs of young children first, and we commend Representatives Ellison and DeLauro for thinking of this as a children’s issue,” said Bruce Lesley, President of First Focus Campaign for Children. “Being able to afford diapers, food, healthcare, and other necessities are struggles that low-income families have to face every day.”
The diverse coalition of national organizations who support the law – from the National Women’s Law Center to the Augusta Food Bank in Maine – understand the importance of making diapers affordable and available to all families. The current lack of a formal support system to ensure the hygiene needs of more than 5 million children living in low-income families makes diaper affordability one of the biggest economic challenges for families today.
Diapers can cost a family more than $100 per month, disproportionately affecting the poor. According to a 2014 Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) report, the poorest 20 percent of families spent 14 percent of their income on diapers. Because so many parents lack the diapers they need, hundreds of diaper banks have popped up around the country in the last decade. The National Diaper Bank Network (NDBN) estimates that one in three families struggle with the cost of diapers today.
“All babies deserve access to clean diapers,” said Joanne Goldblum, NDBN executive director. “The legislation introduced by Representatives Ellison and DeLauro demonstrates Congressional leadership and readiness to improve the well-being of all U.S. families, especially those experiencing diaper need – a hidden consequence of poverty. Because of the bill, more Americans are learning about diaper need, supporting the growing diaper bank movement, and working to improve all of our communities by getting clean diapers to babies in need.”
A lack of diapers can affect the physical wellbeing of millions of infants and toddlers and prohibit parents from accessing child care, as well as cause considerable stress for struggling families. According to a Yale School of Medicine study, diaper need is a stronger predictor of depression and anxiety among mothers than food insecurity.
“Living in poverty undermines babies’ brain development in key areas that are critical for school success,” said Matthew Melmed, executive director of ZERO TO THREE. “Too many parents are forced to make dangerous choices between basic needs, such as providing diapers, buying food or heating their home. The Hygiene Assistance Act helps families meet those needs – a crucial step in ensuring their children get off to a strong start.”
The First Focus Campaign for Children is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization affiliated with First Focus, a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization. The Campaign for Children advocates directly for legislative change in Congress to ensure children and families are a priority in federal policy and budget decisions. For more information, visit www.campaignforchildren.org.
The National Diaper Bank Network (NDBN) is a nationwide nonprofit dedicated to eliminating diaper need in America, by leading a national movement to help meet the basic needs of all babies and their families…including access to clean, dry diapers and other material goods. Founded in 2011 with the support of Huggies®, the network raises national awareness of diaper need (#DiaperNeed) and supports the development and expansion of diaper banks in communities throughout the country. Its active membership includes more than 280 diaper banks, diaper pantries, and food banks located in 45 states, the District of Columbia and Guam. More information on NDBN and diaper need is available at www.nationaldiaperbanknetwork.org, and on Twitter (@DiaperNetwork) and Facebook (facebook.com/NationalDiaperBankNetwork).
ZERO TO THREE is a national nonprofit that provides parents, professionals and policymakers the knowledge and know-how to nurture development. Founded in 1977, ZERO TO THREE is a leader in the field of infants, toddlers and families – reaching more than 2 million parents each year. The organization brings together experts on parenting, child behavior and development, care and education, and public policymakers to help ensure every child from birth to three years old gets a strong start in life. For more information, please visit zerotothree.org or follow us on Twitter at @ZEROTOTHREE.