September 25, 2020

Watson Coleman Leads DeLauro, Barbara Lee on Bill to Lower Diaper Costs for Families

Acknowledging the financial challenge families face in affording diapers and other necessities during this pandemic, today Congresswomen Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Rosa DeLauro (CT-03) and Barbara Lee (CA-13) announced the introduction of the Improving Diaper Affordability Act during Diaper Need Awareness Week to make the purchase of diapers tax-free.

“Diapers are essential, not a luxury, and even before the pandemic, families were struggling to afford them,” said Rep. Watson Coleman. “Now, in the midst of COVID-19, the situation is dire. This legislation is a simple way to make sure that families aren’t stretching their stock, waiting to change a baby. We have to do more on every front to support working families trying to make ends meet – this is one way we can do that.”

The Improving Diaper Affordability Act would also make the purchase of diapers reimbursable through Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), giving families even more flexibility and savings when buying them.

“I am proud to join my dear friends, champions on our nation’s children, in introducing the Improving the Diaper Affordability Act. As families struggle to purchase diapers during the pandemic, it is imperative we do all we can to keep children healthy and staff,” said Rep. DeLauro. “In my home state, diapers have been tax exempt since 2018, and the Congress should help families around the country in those states that have not taken the same steps as Connecticut. As we approach the end of National Diaper Need Awareness Week at a time when our local diaper banks have seen double and triple demand for diapers during the pandemic and economic crisis, I urge my colleagues to help us pass this critical legislation that will deeply impact a baby and child’s well-being for years to come.”

“The economic impact of COVID-19 has made it even more difficult to afford basic needs and buying diapers,” said Rep. Lee. It’s time for the government to step up and provide for the health and well-being of millions of children. This bill is an import step in ensuring that all parents have the resources they need to support their families.” 

Pre-pandemic data indicated one in three families experienced diaper need, and nearly half of families delayed changing their child’s diaper to extend supply. What’s more, low-income families spent 14 percent of their post-tax earnings on diapers. Each of these statistics demonstrate a need that existed before COVID-19 and has only grown since, with diaper banks nationwide reporting two- to threefold increases in need.

"Diapers are essential to the health and wellbeing of children and their families," said Joanne Goldblum, CEO of the National Diaper Bank Network. "Now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, parents are having a more difficult time than ever buying the diapers they need for their children. Too often, local, state, and federal policies do not treat diapers like a basic necessity, burdening families with higher costs. This important legislation finally recognizes diapers as essential and makes purchasing diapers easier for families."

“Even before COVID-19 and the accompanying economic fallout impacting families, nearly one in three American families with young children reported experiencing diaper need,” said Myra Jones-Taylor, chief policy officer at ZERO TO THREE, an organization supporting transforming the science of early childhood into helpful resources, practical tools and responsive policies for millions of parents. “With 41% of households with children finding it somewhat or very difficult to pay for usual household expenses in the last seven days, this bill is desperately needed by families being challenged to afford and secure diapers for their babies. ZERO TO THREE applauds Reps. Watson Coleman, DeLauro, and Lee for their leadership on this issue that will make a real difference in the lives of families all across the country.”

To view the text of the Improving Diaper Affordability Act, click here.