48% of families delay changing a diaper to extend their supply of diapers.
The poorest 20% of Americans who buy diapers spend nearly 14% of their after-tax income on diapers.
“…members of the National Diaper Bank Network across 46 states distributed over 52,000,000 donated diapers during 2016, helping ensure that more than 278,000 children had the diapers they needed.” [H.Res. 490]
In October 2011, U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) introduced The Diaper Investment and Aid to Promote Economic Recovery Act (DIAPER ACT). In short, the bill directs the federal government to distribute free diapers through day care centers. The bill did not become law and someone from The Heritage Foundation was quoted as saying, “This is a literal push for the nanny state.” “With no regard for the Constitution and regardless of our deficit and debt, there’s no issue too local or too small for liberals to find a role for the federal government.” [Human Events, 10/19/11]
In November 2015, Representatives DeLauro and Ellison (D-MN) introduced the Hygiene Assistance for Families of Infants and Toddlers Act of 2015 (H.R. 4055) which would create a demonstration Project to allow states to provide diapers or a diaper subsidy for low-income and working families.
In his statement at the time of the introduction of the bill, Ellison said “Today, 1 in 3 families struggle to provide diapers for their children. Working families often cannot afford the high cost of diapers because diapers cannot be purchase with Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program funds.”
DeLauro said “Diapers are a basic need for parents of young children.” “No parents should have to choose between buying diapers for their children or buying groceries.” [Ellison press release] The bill did not become law.
On July 28, 2017 Representatives DeLauro, Ellison and Lee introduced House Resolution 490 titled “Supporting the goals and ideals of a ‘National Diaper Awareness Week’”. It was referred to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The bill has not moved as of 12/7/17.
I had heard that parents in Puerto Rico with young children were cleaning off paper diapers and reusing them. When I contacted the folks at the National Diaper Bank Network (NDBN) they responded that, “We have been told that diapers are among the most sought after basic needs items in Puerto Rico.”
They had not heard specifically about diapers being reused but they did note that “it is far too common for families experiencing diaper need to reuse soiled diapers – dumping solid wastes and/or air drying urine-soaked diapers.”
I also heard from my old friend David Stauss in North Dakota who wrote,
“After seeing your WW piece about the diaper bank, as president of Prevent Child Abuse ND, I proposed that we establish one for our home visiting sites on the Spirit Lake and Turtle Mountain Reservations.”
A day later, David wrote again to add the following from one of the folks he works with.
“Andrea from the Great Plains Food Bank confirmed that after speaking to the directors, GPFB would like to work on statewide projects and initiatives, so anything we do in collaboration with them will have to be statewide and not focused on the MIECHV communities.
“At our request, Andrea will be speaking with the directors of the GPFB to schedule a conference call meeting for PCAND and GPFB to discuss future collaborations and efforts in North Dakota. She is hoping to get back to us soon with potential dates and times for this call.
“Jacob Davis, Tribal Programming Director, would like to reach out to the National Diaper Bank and discuss a possible partnership between the National Diaper Bank and PCAND to deliver diapers to the reservations in North Dakota. This would provide concrete services to the communities in need that we work with in North Dakota.”
It is one small step but it is a step.