Youngblood kicks off ‘Diaper Awareness Week’ with news conference, donation drive

HARRISBURG, Sept. 22 – In conjunction with her resolution (H.R. 443) recognizing "Diaper Need Awareness Week" in Pennsylvania, state Rep. Rosita C. Youngblood hosted a Capitol news conference today promoting the 2nd 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 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 5.3 million children under the age of three suffer from diaper need;
  • And for incontinent seniors on fixed incomes, purchasing what they often view as their most important item of clothing can cost as much as $1,000 a year.

“With little or no access to clean and dry diapers, children and incontinent adults could spend a day or longer in one diaper, leading to significant potential health risks,” Youngblood said. “And since a clean supply of diapers is often a requirement for participation in daycare for young children, this growing diaper gap for working families severely impacts their ability to obtain and keep employment.”

Underscoring the importance of diaper banks, Youngblood noted that most public resources, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Women, Infants and Children program (WIC), do not allow families to buy diapers with money they provide. She added that Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and programs for the elderly, such as Medicare, are silent on the issue.

In addition to a bipartisan group of legislators, joining Youngblood at the event were Alison Weir, director of policy, research and analysis, National Diaper Bank Network; Amanda Barnes of Healthy Steps Diaper Bank in Harrisburg; and Pat Kennedy of the Greater Philadelphia Diaper Bank.

“An often-hidden consequence of poverty, diaper need impacts the physical, emotional and economic well-being of far too many infants and families living in communities throughout Pennsylvania and the U.S,” Weir said. “We at the National Diaper Bank Network are proud of the ongoing efforts of Representative Youngblood – and other elected officials – to raise awareness of diaper need, and for supporting the vital work of Pennsylvania's diaper banks that provide diapers to families in need, thereby helping to keep babies clean, dry and healthy.”

Sue Speese, executive director of Healthy Steps Diaper Bank in Harrisburg, added, "We appreciate the Pennsylvania House of Representatives for highlighting this critical need, faced by too many Pennsylvania families – and thank them for assisting Healthy Steps Diaper Bank, serving the greater Harrisburg area, and other diaper banks in Pennsylvania in fulfilling this need."

To further assist with meeting this need, Youngblood added that she’s introduced two bills: H.B. 1405, known as the Clean, Healthy and Dry Act, which would provide grants to help offset the costs associated with operating a diaper bank or donation program; and H.B. 1406, which would permanently move diapers and incontinent products into the sales tax exemption for clothing.

As part of this year’s donation drive, unopened diapers, wipes and other products, including incontinent 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. 21 to Oct. 2. Labeled donation bins will also be placed in locations around the Capitol.

Youngblood also recognized the efforts of First Quality, a company that manufacturers diapers and other baby products. The company donated several boxes of diapers and wipes to aid this week’s event. The company’s factory is located in McElhattan, Pa., represented by state Rep. Mike Hanna, D-Clinton/Centre, who also serves as the House Democratic whip.

Hanna said, "Once again, I am happy and proud of First Quality for stepping up to provide assistance to families in need. First Quality is a huge asset to Pennsylvania and I am pleased to join them in the diaper drive to help increase availability of these crucial items."

Last year, more than 1,500 diapers were collected. Youngblood’s district constituent service office, located at 310 W. Chelten Ave., Philadelphia, will also be collecting diapers as part of the two-week drive.

For more information, contact Youngblood's office at 717-772-5404.