1 in 3 Families Can't Afford Diapers, but This New Bill Might Just Be Their Much-Needed Safety Net

Senator Tammy Duckworth's new End Diaper Need Act of 2021 aims to help the millions of U.S. families struggling to afford diapers.

A third of American families are struggling to afford diapers. And the problem is only exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. According to the National Diaper Bank Network, families can expect about 12 diaper changes each day for infants and 8 for toddlers, adding up to $70 or $80 per child each month. For the millions facing the very real problem of diaper need—or "the lack of a sufficient supply of diapers to keep an infant or child clean, dry, and healthy"—Senator Tammy Duckworth has a solution.

Sen. Duckworth's End Diaper Need Act of 2021, a bipartisan bill introduced Monday alongside Sens. Bob Casey and Kevin Cramer, aims to help low-income families who can't afford diapers for their infants and toddlers.

"In the middle of a global public health crisis―with so many families struggling to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads―the last thing parents should have to worry about is being able to buy diapers that are essential to the health and well-being of their children," Duckworth told HuffPost.

The reality is that 5 million children under the age of 3 live in poor or low-income families and government assistance does not cover the cost of diapers. Even when families receive help with daycare costs, the required supply of disposable diapers is often not included. And though cloth diapers could be one solution, the up-front costs are a barrier, too.

And the pandemic is only making things worse. Since March 2020, unemployment rates have skyrocketed, especially for women of color, child care costs have spiked by 41 percent, and 1 in 4 Americans are having trouble paying their bills. Lower-income families, and primarily Black and Hispanic Americans, are being hit the hardest. Troy Moore, the chief of external affairs for the National Diaper Bank Network, told the New York Times in July that their locations are "distributing on average, 50 percent more diapers monthly to families in need than before COVID-19."

Here's how the End Diaper Need Act will address the problems so many parents are facing:

  • Between 2022 and 2025, the bill will put $200 million toward diapers and diaper supplies every year.
  • "Medically complex children" will receive 200 diapers per month through Medicaid.
  • The bill will redefine diapers and diaper supplies as qualified medical expenses, meaning families will actually be able to use their health spending accounts to pay for them.

"Quite frankly, families have enough to deal with right now—the last thing they should have to worry about is affording diapers," Duckworth tweeted about the bill.

While the bill awaits approval, you can help struggling families right now by donating to the National Diaper Bank Network or giving unused, unopened diapers to your local diaper bank.

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