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HHS Rolls Out First-Ever Diaper Distribution Program

September 30, 2022 by Dan McCue
(Photo by Ignacio Campo via Unsplash)

WASHINGTON — Families in need in six states and one tribal territory will be the beneficiaries of a new diaper distribution program rolled out by the Department of Health and Human Services this week.

The pilot program will award $8 million in funding to community service block grant state associations and tribes to distribute diapers and diapering supplies to low-income families and reduce their economic burden.

The seven grants awarded through the Diaper Distribution Demonstration and Research Pilot will be awarded from the department’s Administration for Children and Families.

In a written statement, January Contreras, assistant secretary of the ACF, said, “parents shouldn’t have to worry that their babies will go without the most basic of needs.” 

“Diapers are a crucial resource for families with babies and young children,” Contreras said. “For a single parent working full time at federal minimum wage, keeping one child in diapers alone can cost 8% of the parent’s income. This program will alleviate some of the economic burden for parents and families at a time when they most need it.”

According to the HHS, one in three families in the United States do not have enough diapers to meet the needs of their babies and toddlers. 

Diaper support has been found to reduce economic stress, increase workforce participation, increase family income, and improve both children and caretakers’ health and well-being.

“The diaper distribution pilot is about more than just diapers — it is about lifting a real and tangible barrier to health and well-being for low-income families and connecting those families with other programs that address the conditions and causes of poverty,” said ACF Office of Community Services Director Dr. Lanikque Howard.

The states receiving the grants are Washington, Arizona, Iowa, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

A key champion of the pilot program in Congress was Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health, and Human Services.

Two of the seven pilot projects are in Washington state, which is receiving about $2 million of the total allocated for the program.

One of the projects is being overseen by the South Puget Intertribal Planning Agency, which will help distribute diapers to tribal communities.

“Every single day, I work hard to lift stress off parents’ shoulders — because no parent should be worried about getting diapers for their child. 

“But right now, as any parent will tell you, diapers can be a huge cost — and one in three families with a child who needs diapers struggles to afford them,” Murray said in a statement released through her office.

“Moms, parents and babies deserve better, that’s why I fought for this critical program to support diaper banks and get diapers to families that need them,” she continued.

“I’m proud to see that two of the pilot programs will launch in Washington state, and will provide diapers to families from Pasco to Seattle, including to tribal communities in the South Puget Sound. 

“This is an important step forward, and I’ll keep fighting to get Washington state families the support they need, on everything from diapers to child care,” she added.

Dan can be reached at dan@thewellnews.com and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue.

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