Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn. and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., introduced legislation that would provide federal funds for welfare recipients to buy diapers for babies and infants. According to the National Diaper Bank Network, the Hygiene Assistance for Families of Infants and Toddlers Act of 2015 (H.R. 4055) would “provide access to one of the most basic needs of every infant and toddler, clean diapers.”
According to the organization, working families “cannot afford the high cost of diapers because diapers cannot be purchased with Food Stamps.” Benefits received under Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), argued the group, are insufficient to cover diapers and daily expenses such as rent or clothing. “Lack of access to diapers and supplies can cause children to get sick, and force families to skip work in order to care for their infant or toddler.” The bill would authorize and fund projects in the various states to provide diapers or a diaper subsidy for low-income families. The diaper banks could be among those receiving funding.
In a statement, Rep. Ellison declared “Families should not have to decide between diapers, food, or rent.” Rep. Ellison, a member of the Black Caucus and the only Muslim in Congress, said “With millions of families struggling to provide diapers for their children, it’s time we recognize that families are being forced to make tough decisions that affect their child’s health. We all benefit when children are healthy, and families are not worried about how they will care for their infant or toddler.”
The bill would amend title IV of the Social Security Act, and address the increased burden that maintaining the health and hygiene of infants and toddlers places on families in need, the resultant adverse health effects on children and families, and the limited child care options available for infants and toddlers who lack sufficient diapers, which prevents their parents and guardians from entering the workforce.
National Diaper Bank Network (NDBN) Executive Director Joanne Goldblum said she is thrilled about the subsidy. She said, “All babies deserve access to clean diapers. As more Americans learn about diaper need, they are increasingly supporting the diaper bank movement, and our simple solution to improving all of our communities … providing diapers to babies in need.”
Among the co-sponsors are: Rep. Raul Grijálva, Rep. Scott Peters, Rep. Tony Cárdenas, Rep. Andre Carson, Rep. Jim McGovern, Rep. Grace Meng, Rep. Yvette Clarke, Rep. Barbara Lee, Rep. Mark Pocan, Rep. Marcy Kaptur, Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, Rep. Jerry Nadler, Rep. Alcee L. Hastings, Rep. John Conyers Jr., Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham , Rep. Judy Chu, Rep. Donna Edwards. All of them are Democrats.
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