There are many ways that diaper need can be met through legislation and other policies considered by the Congress or the Administration.
Lee-DeLauro End Diaper Need Act of 2019 (H.R.1846)
Introduced March 21, 2019 by Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, the End Diaper Need Act of 2019 (H.R.1846) would create a $100 million demonstration program for distributing free diapers and diapering products in states, communities, and nonprofits around the nation to help reduce the diaper need in low-income families and underserved communities.
More information on the bill is available below.
Federal Assistance Programs
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.
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. There are not enough slots for all the children who would be eligible for Early Head Start to enroll–only about 4% of children who are eligible can enroll.
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 most states, the CCDBG funds for the state does not cover the need.