Introducing the Diaper Need Act: Helping families with babies and young children afford diapers

Introducing the Diaper Need Act: Helping families with babies and young children afford diapers

Diaper cash assistance: Addressing #diaperneed for Washington families 

The 2022 legislative session has begun and WestSide Baby and the Washington Diaper Bank Coalition are excited to announce the introduction of The End Diaper Need Act, with bills in both the House and the Senate (See the bills here: HB1947 & SB5838). WestSide Baby legislative champions Representative Noel Frame, Representative Jesse Johnson, Senator T’wina Nobles, and Senator Ann Rivers are leading the way for this important legislation acknowledging the high cost of diapers for families.

Diaper Wall

The challenge.

Unlike other essentials such as food or health insurance, no public assistance programs help families pay for diapers – and diapers can cost up to $100 a month for a newborn. The only other state in the country that has a public benefit program for diapers is California, and Washington would like to lead the way.

When families cannot afford diapers, parents replace them with paper towels, plastic bags, or may re-use dirty diapers. Mothers in this situation are more likely to suffer from maternal depression and other mental health issues. Parents who cannot provide disposable diapers for their children are unable to access childcare, impeding their ability to go to work or attend school

Read: Low-income families spend nearly 14% of their monthly income on diapers.

The policy solution.

  • All Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) households with children under the age of three will receive a $100/month cash grant increase to help pay for diapers. The grant increase will cause a decrease in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, restricted to food purchasing, but will be offset by the overall increase of TANF funds.
  • All TANF families with children under three will experience a positive net increase of unrestricted cash of $40-$60 a month to help pay for diapers.
  • This is a per-household grant increase for 7,000 TANF households with an estimated cost of $11 million per year. 

The time is now.

Diaper need has dramatically intensified during the pandemic, and this policy is a way forward for families in Washington who are furthest from equitable access to basic needs. Before COVID-19, our social safety net had holes and one in three families were unable to access the essentials to keep children safe, warm, and thriving. As of June 2021, diaper prices have increased by 12% in less than two years. Supporting TANF households with increased funds to purchase diapers will address both the continued COVID-19 socio-economic crisis and health equity in our state.