By Eric Tegethoff
Washington News Service
SEATTLE – One dirty truth – literally – about child rearing is the high cost of diapers.
They cost families from $70 to $80 a month per child.
Congress is considering legislation that would fund pilot programs in Washington and other states to help low-income families afford the necessity.
Currently, no federal program meets that need, says Alison Weir, director of policy and research at the National Diaper Bank Network.
“You tell people that you can’t buy diapers with food stamps or WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children) and the first response is ‘What?'” she points out. “Neither program is meant for that, 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.”
TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) is the only program that provides money that could be used for diapers.
Missouri recently opted to fund diaper banks there and 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 says the pressure to provide diapers for their children 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 to delaying changing a diaper or, in some cases, shaking a diaper out and trying to reuse it,” she relates. “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 currently seven diaper banks in Washington state. Of the more than 260,000 children in the state under age three, 20 percent live in households earning less than the federal poverty line.
Eric Tegethoff is a journalist covering the Northwest. Eric has worked as a reporter for KBOO, XRAY FM, and Oregon Public Broadcasting in Portland, Oregon, as well as other print and digital news media. In 2012, Eric traveled to North Dakota to write about the Bakken region oil boom. He's also worked at a movie theater, as a campaign canvasser and quality assurance at a milk packaging factory. Eric is originally from Orlando, Florida. He graduated from the University of Florida in 2010.