The DIAPER Act (HR 3134) Supports Cloth Diapers

Econobum

On October 6th, Congresswoman Rosa L. DeLauro introduced the DIAPER Act (HR 3134), a bill designed to provide diapers to families using subsidized childcare. To receive subsidized child care, you must be working or going to school. Childcare providers require that you provide diapers for your baby. Diapers are expensive.

Unfortunately, it is impossible to work or go to school, even when childcare could be subsidized, if you can’t afford to buy diapers for your baby to wear during the day.

Most people aren’t aware of the stark realities impoverished families are living in the United States.

Most large cities have literal third world countries in their backyards. Real families are living day-to-day existences that most of us who live in suburban America choose to ignore. We don’t go to that part of town because it might be dangerous. Suburban and city cultures develop almost independently as children are raised in different schools, attend different churches and socialize only with children from their neighborhoods.

There aren’t enough disposable diaper banks to serve all the low income families needing diapers.

Private charities offering cloth diapers are small and as overwhelmed with the need.

Laws governing WIC don’t allow the support of anything but nutrition services. Food stamps work in grocery stores and don’t work on diapers. The only federal funds that can be used on disposable diapers come from TANF (Temporary Aid to Needy Families), a grant given out by the states to only the most destitute of families.

Friends, legislation like the DIAPER Act could really make a meaningful difference.

Quoting from Proposed Bill, the DIAPER Act defines a “Diaper” as:

3) DIAPER- The term ‘diaper’ means an absorbent garment worn by infants and toddlers who are not toilet-trained or individuals who are incapable of controlling their bladder or bowel movements. ‘Diaper’ refers to a disposable diaper or, where the administering agency elects to make available, a washable cloth diaper and the requisite diaper laundering and delivery services necessary to provide sufficient clean diapers for the eligible population. ‘Diapering supplies’ means items, including diapers, diaper wipes, and diaper cream, necessary for safe diapering.’.

The full text of the DIAPER Act:

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.
Congress finds, pursuant to its authority under article I and the fourteenth amendment of the Constitution, that–
(1) access to a reliable supply of clean diapers is a medical necessity for the health and welfare of infant and toddlers, their families, and child and health care providers,
(2) a supply of diapers is generally an eligibility requirement for infants and toddlers to participate in early childhood educational programs,
(3) providing a sufficient supply of diapers can cause economic hardship to needy families,
(4) absent access to child care, parents and guardians of infants and toddlers cannot participate in the workforce, thereby causing economic harm to many families,
(5) providing diapering systems to needy infants and toddlers through child care programs furthers the national goals of improved health and sanitation for families and for staff in early childhood education and child care programs, and
(6) making available clean diapers to needy infants and toddlers who would otherwise be prevented from participating in child care programs furthers the national goal of safe and quality child care, and therefore enables better implementation of the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 1990.

SEC. 3. PROVISION OF DIAPERS AS CHILD CARE ASSISTANCE.
The Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. 9801 et seq.) is amended–
(1) in section 658E(c)(3)(C) by adding at the end the following:
‘Provision of diapers for use by eligible children within the State who receive or are offered child care services for which financial assistance is provided under this Act is a direct service and shall not be included in administrative costs.’,
(2) in section 658G is amended by adding at the end the following:
‘These activities include the provision of diapers and diapering supplies to enrolled child care providers sufficient for the population of children under the age of three whose parent receives or is offered financial assistance under this Act.’, and
(3) in section 658P by inserting after paragraph (2) the following:
‘(3) DIAPER- The term ‘diaper’ means an absorbent garment worn by infants and toddlers who are not toilet-trained or individuals who are incapable of controlling their bladder or bowel movements. ‘Diaper’ refers to a disposable diaper or, where the administering agency elects to make available, a washable cloth diaper and the requisite diaper laundering and delivery services necessary to provide sufficient clean diapers for the eligible population. ‘Diapering supplies’ means items, including diapers, diaper wipes, and diaper cream, necessary for safe diapering.’.

In summary, the act would allow  funds from a WIC or SNAP supplement to be used to purchase cloth or disposable diapers.

I applaud Congress for their efforts to reach out in a meaningful way to young families struggling to meet the needs of their child.

Unfortunately, those in the media spun the bill as something that it wasn’t and created a nearly impossible situation for it to pass. Even Rush Limbaugh went off on the Diaper Act, describing it as ludicrous and ridiculous.  I don’t think he’d even read the legislation.

From Rush Limbaugh's Website...
This unfortunate image is from Rush Limbaugh’s website.

Research generated by Huggies through a study published as “Every Little Bottom” showed that 1 out of 3 parents is choosing between diapers and something essential, like food, utilities or child care. Dirty disposable diapers are being reused at a disturbing rate.

The DIAPER Actl puts more parents to work earning paychecks that can be spent on consumer goods and services, driving up GDP; generating spending that helps get our country out of the current debt crisis. They only have to work a few hours at minimum wage to generate $20 in revenue to offset the government transfer payment to buy that package of diapers.

This issue is my passion. As recently as last month, I had meetings with senior leadership in federal, state and local government agencies to discuss how we could partner with those agencies to reach out to those families. With each agency we’ve spoken with, we’ve found that leadership understands the need for diapers, but is prevented from acting to help families by the way legislation is written. The DIAPER Act is the first legislation we’ve seen that actually takes a step towards helping these families in a meaningful way.

I’d like to see the cloth diapering community get behind the Diaper Act. We have a loud voice and we can raise awareness.

Do you know a family who has struggled to purchase diapers (cloth or disposable)? Do you know a family living the reality of diapers or food? Are you that family? Please leave a comment telling me your story.

Other ways you can help:

  • Please like this post on Facebook.
  • Call your Congressional representative and let them know that you’re concerned about the issue of Diaper Need and that you’d like to ask them to consider sponsoring HR 3134.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Do you have thoughts to add?