Legislative effort to raise awareness on diaper need in Pa.

HARRISBURG, Sept. 24 – In conjunction with their resolution (H.R. 465) recognizing “Diaper Need Awareness Week” in Pennsylvania, state Reps. Rosita C. Youngblood, D-Phila., and Carol Hill-Evans, D-York, hosted a Capitol news conference today promoting the sixth annual Capitol Diaper Drive.

“Access to a reliable supply of clean diapers is a necessity for the health and well-being of Pennsylvania's children and incontinent adults,” Youngblood said. “Unfortunately, across our commonwealth, there is a growing epidemic as many families and seniors on fixed incomes are simply unable to afford disposable diapers and undergarments.”

To demonstrate the scope of the problem, Youngblood and Hill-Evans cited these statistics from the National Diaper Bank Network, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing the diaper gap in the Unites States:

  • One in every three mothers finds it difficult to provide diapers for her children.
  • Nearly 5.2 million children under the age of three suffer from diaper need.
  • For incontinent seniors on fixed incomes, purchasing what they often view as their most important item of clothing can cost at least $1,000 a year.

Hill-Evans said, “Diaper need is often the hidden result of extreme poverty for a family. There are no safety-net programs that allocate dollars for the purchase of diapers and, as a result, our poorest families have to resort to leaving their child in the same diaper for an entire day. This is no choice a parent or caregiver can ever make easily. Adult diapers are a reality for many of our older adults as well, and on a fixed income, it can become a rather large expense. These concerns are about health, safety and well-being. It’s up to us to help out those who need help the most, and that’s why I’m proud to stand with my colleagues and local organizations as we work to bring awareness to this issue while kicking off this diaper drive.”

Underscoring the importance of diaper banks and drives, Hill-Evans and Youngblood noted that most public resources, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the Women, Infants and Children program do not allow families to buy diapers with money they provide. She added that Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and programs for the elderly, such as Medicaid, do allow people to purchase incontinence supplies and diapers in Pennsylvania.

Youngblood said, “It’s heartbreaking to think that a child could remain in a soiled diaper so the limited supply of costly diapers can last longer. As legislators, we must continue to join community organizations with contributions of our time and donations, as well as using our full ability to bring awareness to this need.”

Youngblood and Hill-Evans are currently seeking co-sponsors for a package of bills, including one piece of legislation that would give the Department of Human Services the ability to provide assistance to certain low-income people to buy diapers for children 36 months of age or younger, and another bill that would establish a grant program to improve, enhance and expand access to clean diapers for infants, children and incontinent adults through outreach programs, volunteer training and fundraising assistance.

As part of this year’s donation drive, unopened diapers, wipes and other products, including incontinence products and disposable adult undergarments, for the Capitol Diaper Drive will be collected in the East Wing Rotunda from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day for two weeks, from Sept. 24 to Oct. 4. Labeled donation bins will also be placed in locations around the Capitol.

For more information on “Diaper Need Awareness Week,” the sixth annual Capitol Diaper Drive, or legislative initiatives in Pennsylvania aimed at helping reduce the diaper divide, residents may contact Youngblood's office at 717-787-7727 or Hill-Evans’ office at 717-787-7514.