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Diaper Need is an Economic Justice Issue

Diaper Need is an Economic Justice Issue

By Siona Wadhawan

In honor of September’s Diaper Need Awareness week, our summer intern, Siona Wadhawan, wrote blog posts highlighting how diaper need is often MORE than just what it seems.

Stay tuned for Part II later this month!

While families across the U.S continue to face financial burdens exacerbated by the pandemic, diapers are becoming increasingly more difficult to afford.

Diaper prices have risen at alarming rates since the beginning of the pandemic, becoming more expensive and inaccessible to working families. According to the Wall Street Journal, prices rose over 12% in under 2 years from the end of 2019 to June of 2021.

This rise in prices comes on top of the increased financial hardships families are facing due to Covid-19 reminding us that diaper need is a direct result of socioeconomic inequality in the U.S. Lower-income families spend over 14% of their income on diapers. Diapers are also not covered by federal programs which makes them even more difficult to access than other basic resources. The scarcity of this basic needs item means many of the caregivers we serve who already struggle with getting essentials are unable to support their families

In response to this growing need, diaper banks like WestSide Baby have had to work extra hard to ensure that the communities we serve are able to access what they need. In 2020, we distributed 2.4 million diapers, over a million more than in the previous year.

WestSide Baby is proud to continue to serve on the front lines of Seattle‘s COVID-19 pandemic response, working incredibly hard to increase diaper distributions and support children and families in need of immediate assistance. However, we recognize that our work is not enough to address diaper need nationwide. Diaper inaccessibility is a systemic issue that requires systemic solutions.

Thanks to the help of our community, WestSide Baby was able to push for a major investment in the Washington state budget to systemically address diaper need. Over the next two years, $5 million in grants will go to Washington’s diaper banks in order to provide approximately 29 million diapers to families who are unable to access an adequate supply otherwise. This is a historic win for Washington families!

As part of our equity-focused mission, WestSide Baby will continue to push policymakers to pass legislation that provides direct economic support to working BIPOC families because there is no diaper justice without economic justice.

Take Action for Diaper Need Awareness Week, September 27 – October 3.

None of the work we do here at WestSide Baby is possible without our community of supporters and volunteers. Here are a few ways you can continue advocating to end diaper need: