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New Program Could Help Provide Diapers for Children in Need

Congress is considering legislation that would help families afford the cost of diapers. (phaewilk/morguefile)
Congress is considering legislation that would help families afford the cost of diapers. (phaewilk/morguefile)
July 20, 2016

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Diapers can cost families as much as $80 per month per child. Right now, Congress is considering legislation that would fund pilot programs in Florida and other states to help low-income families afford the necessity. Currently, no federal program meets that need, said Alison Weir with the National Diaper Bank Network.

"You tell people that you can't buy diapers with food stamps or WIC and the first response is 'what?' Neither program is meant for that,” she said. “But the programs that were meant to cover basic needs have all shrunk to the point where there's a big hole in the safety net."

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is the only program that provides money that could be used for diapers, but in Florida, that benefit is limited to $303 a month for a household with one parent and two children. Missouri recently opted to fund diaper banks, while California is considering a voucher to offset the cost for children enrolled in subsidized day care. The federal bill has been referred to a House subcommittee for consideration.

Weir said the pressure to provide diapers often forces parents to make tough choices. It's a fact illustrated by a survey from Feeding America in which parents shared some surprising confessions.

"A large number of folks admitted delaying changing a diaper or, in some cases, shaking a diaper out and trying to reuse it,” Weir said. “And if you don't have diapers, in most cases you can't leave your child at day care because most day cares require parents to provide the diapers their child will use."

There are nearly 650,000 children under the age of three in Florida, and according to the National Diaper Bank Network, about one in three is in a family that earns less than the federal poverty level.

For more information, visit nationaldiaperbanknetwork.org.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - FL