Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) & Women, Infants and Children (WIC)
Federal assistance programs do not currently provide adequate funds for buying diapers. Diapers cannot be bought with SNAP (formerly called “food stamps”) or WIC.
SNAP and WIC should NOT be used for diapers. They are nutrition programs administered by the Department of Agriculture. Diapers would be a big cost addition to these programs that already face budget challenges.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
Diapers can be bought with TANF cash assistance, but nationwide only 23% of families living below the Federal Poverty Level receive cash assistance through TANF. In 13 states, fewer than 10 of every 100 poor families receive cash assistance. The funds they do receive are insufficient to buy diapers and pay all the other expenses (utility bills, rent, other hygiene essentials, clothing, etc.) that money is supposed to cover.
Learn more about TANF here.
See how much of a monthly TANF allowance would be required to buy a month’s supply of diapers in your state.
Early Head Start and Head Start
Diapers are provided to children enrolled in Early Head Start and Head Start center-based programs during the time they are in the center. Diapers are not required in home-based programs. Only a tiny fraction of children who would be eligible for Early Head Start are enrolled.
See the program instruction that requires Head Start and Early Head Start to provide diapers here.
Child Care Development Funds (CCDF)
The Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program provides subsidies for low-income families needing child care. Child care centers receiving CCDF though these subsidies are not required to provide diapers. Indeed, most child care programs require parents to provide their own diapers. States may use CCDBG moneys for diapers, but the CCDBG program is so underfunded with so many mandates that for most states, the funds are expended by paying for salaries, facilities, and quality improvement programs. Indeed, in many states, enrollment is down, not because there aren’t enough children who need child care, but because the CCDBG for the state does not cover the need.