Olympia– State Sen. T’wina Nobles has sponsored legislation to address a diaper need for Washington families who are on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).

Senate Bill 5838, the Diaper Need Act, directs the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) to distribute a monthly diaper subsidy to parents or other caregivers who receive TANF and have children under three years old to help pay for diapers.

“The cost of diapers is a barrier whether you have one child or four,” said Nobles. “I know how expensive it was for my four children. While costs and hardships have only increased with the pandemic, support for paying for diapers has not. Furthermore, the cost of diapers has outpaced inflation, which has posed increased economic stress for families struggling to get by. And diapers are a basic need for every child.”

Many early childcare programs except for early Head Start, require an adequate supply of diapers for child attendance but do not provide diapers. Parents and guardians who cannot provide disposable diapers for their children are unable to access childcare, impeding their ability to go to work or attend school. Additionally, in order to maximize diaper supply, families may be forced to provide less frequent diaper changes because they are unable to afford an adequate supply of diapers. This could result in an increased risk of diaper dermatitis and urinary tract infection.

“I am glad to co-sponsor this bill,” said Sen. Ann Rivers. “Parents don’t have a choice about using diapers, and Senator Nobles’ legislation pairs nicely with SB 5309, my bill to eliminate the sales and use tax on diapers for both babies and adults. Together they would make a difference for even more families across our state.”

Parents and guardians are also more likely to suffer from depression and/or other behavioral health issues due to links between diaper needs and increased stress for caregivers. Children who have caregivers with higher levels of stress also have greater risks of social, emotional and behavioral problems. This bill would work to reduce parenting stress and increase parenting sense of competency, thereby improving parenting quality and overall child outcomes.

“Families across Washington are struggling to afford diapers, an essential product needed to keep infants and toddlers healthy and required by most early child care programs in order for their child to attend,” said Rep. Noel Frame, D-Seattle, sponsor of the House companion. “As a mother of a young child, I can attest that parenting can already be stressful without struggling to afford the things your child needs. By providing a monthly diaper subsidy to low-income families, we can help keep young children and their families healthy and happy.”

The text of the bill is available here and it will be heard on Fri., Jan 21 in the Senate Human Services, Reentry, & Rehabilitation Committee, which can be viewed on TVW.org. The 2022 legislative session will end in 60 days.