The DIAPER Act (HR 3134) Supports Cloth Diapers

Econobum

On October 6th, Congresswoman Rosa L. DeLauro introduced the DIAPER Act (HR 3134), a bill designed to provide diapers to families using subsidized childcare. To receive subsidized child care, you must be working or going to school. Childcare providers require that you provide diapers for your baby. Diapers are expensive. Unfortunately, it is impossible to work or go to school, even when childcare could be subsidized, if you can’t afford to buy diapers for your baby to wear during the day.

As response has grown to this issue, I’ve realized that most people aren’t aware of the stark realities impoverished families are living in the United States. I wasn’t enlightened myself until a meeting a few weeks ago.

Recently, we’d heard about a local judge who was doing something to help teens who’d been kicked out of school and left to roam the streets. Knowing that some of these teens are also young parents, my husband and I sat down with the judge to discuss how we can help educate the teen moms in his school about diapering their baby on a shoestring. During our conversation, he spoke of families who can’t wash their child’s clothing because they can’t afford hot water or detergent. He now offers the children in his school access to warm showers and a washer/dryer so they can have clean clothes. He asked us to take these limitations into account when working to develop material to educate these girls about how to take care of their baby.

We are taking some inspiration from The Flats Challenge (created by Kim Rosas). Using concepts from a blog post I wrote about diapering a baby with items around the house, we will be showing these moms how to use flats, teaching them to “bucket wash”, and working to find a way to easily provide them with detergent.

We are looking forward to helping the young people in the judge’s school, but we walked away from our conversation that day shaking our heads in dismay. We knew things were bad in North St. Louis, but we didn’t realize it was that bad… and for so many families. After doing some more reading, I’ve realized that most large cities have literal third world countries in their backyards. Real families are living day-to-day existences that most of us who live in suburban America choose to ignore. We don’t go to that part of town because it might be dangerous. Suburban and city cultures develop almost independently as children are raised in different schools, attend different churches and socialize only with children from their neighborhoods. Suburban families choose to remain obtuse; an embarrassing state particularly for the highly educated customers who tend to choose cloth diapers over disposables.

We have been writing for several years now about how low income families simply don’t have reasonable access to diapers. As a single company though, Cotton Babies can’t possibly “fix” all of the needs the babies have in those areas. There aren’t enough diaper banks to serve all the low income families. Their shelves are constantly empty. Private charities offering cloth diapers are small and as overwhelmed with the need. Laws governing WIC don’t allow the support of anything but nutrition services. Food stamps work in grocery stores and don’t work on diapers. The only federal funds that can be used on disposable diapers come from TANF (Temporary Aid to Needy Families), a grant given out by the states to only the most destitute of families. Families only qualify for TANF when they really have absolutely nothing. At that point in time, having a roof over their head trumps buying diapers. Other than TANF, there is no existing legislation or program to really help these families with a very basic, simple need. Friends, this is really the most meaningful effort I’ve seen by Congress in a long time to reach out to young, needy families. Legislation like the DIAPER Act could really make a meaningful difference.

As word about this legislation has spread online, I’ve seen some in the cloth diaper community reach to the DIAPER Act with outrage because they think it only pays for disposable diapers. It always amuses me when people react harshly to something they read, assuming it’s factual, rather than working to actually understand an issue. To avoid any further confusion, I’ve included the definition of “Diaper” as written in the DIAPER ACT (http://www.opencongress.org/bill/112-h3134/text) below:

3) DIAPER- The term ‘diaper’ means an absorbent garment worn by infants and toddlers who are not toilet-trained or individuals who are incapable of controlling their bladder or bowel movements. ‘Diaper’ refers to a disposable diaper or, where the administering agency elects to make available, a washable cloth diaper and the requisite diaper laundering and delivery services necessary to provide sufficient clean diapers for the eligible population. ‘Diapering supplies’ means items, including diapers, diaper wipes, and diaper cream, necessary for safe diapering.’.

While we’re being thorough, here is the rest of the Act for your reading enjoyment:

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.
Congress finds, pursuant to its authority under article I and the fourteenth amendment of the Constitution, that–
(1) access to a reliable supply of clean diapers is a medical necessity for the health and welfare of infant and toddlers, their families, and child and health care providers,
(2) a supply of diapers is generally an eligibility requirement for infants and toddlers to participate in early childhood educational programs,
(3) providing a sufficient supply of diapers can cause economic hardship to needy families,
(4) absent access to child care, parents and guardians of infants and toddlers cannot participate in the workforce, thereby causing economic harm to many families,
(5) providing diapering systems to needy infants and toddlers through child care programs furthers the national goals of improved health and sanitation for families and for staff in early childhood education and child care programs, and
(6) making available clean diapers to needy infants and toddlers who would otherwise be prevented from participating in child care programs furthers the national goal of safe and quality child care, and therefore enables better implementation of the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 1990.

SEC. 3. PROVISION OF DIAPERS AS CHILD CARE ASSISTANCE.
The Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. 9801 et seq.) is amended–
(1) in section 658E(c)(3)(C) by adding at the end the following:
‘Provision of diapers for use by eligible children within the State who receive or are offered child care services for which financial assistance is provided under this Act is a direct service and shall not be included in administrative costs.’,
(2) in section 658G is amended by adding at the end the following:
‘These activities include the provision of diapers and diapering supplies to enrolled child care providers sufficient for the population of children under the age of three whose parent receives or is offered financial assistance under this Act.’, and
(3) in section 658P by inserting after paragraph (2) the following:
‘(3) DIAPER- The term ‘diaper’ means an absorbent garment worn by infants and toddlers who are not toilet-trained or individuals who are incapable of controlling their bladder or bowel movements. ‘Diaper’ refers to a disposable diaper or, where the administering agency elects to make available, a washable cloth diaper and the requisite diaper laundering and delivery services necessary to provide sufficient clean diapers for the eligible population. ‘Diapering supplies’ means items, including diapers, diaper wipes, and diaper cream, necessary for safe diapering.’.

I stand by and applaud the Congresswoman for her efforts to reach out in a meaningful way to needy families.
Unfortunately, her efforts in kindness have generated a disgusting reaction from those who simply don’t understand either the goal of this bill or what it would do for our economy. On Friday, even Rush Limbaugh went off on the Diaper Act, describing it as ludicrous and ridiculous.

From Rush Limbaugh's Website...
This unfortunate image is from Rush Limbaugh’s website.

Before he says anything else, Rush should consider reading through the research generated by Huggies last year; research that inspired their “Every Little Bottom” campaign. Their research showed that 1 out of 3 parents is choosing between diapers and something essential, like food, utilities or child care. It says that 1 out of 20 parents is reusing dirty disposable diapers. Rush needs to understand how much change this simple legislation could bring to impoverished families. [Rush, knowing that someone on your staff will read this, you should know that I'm a conservative. I'm a small business owner. I don't talk about how I vote, but I do educate myself carefully, including being sure that I understand your perspective. On this particular issue, you've missed it 100%.]

This bill puts more parents to work earning paychecks that can be spent on consumer goods and services, driving up GDP; generating spending that helps get our country out of the current debt crisis. They only have to work a few hours at minimum wage to generate $20 in revenue to offset the government transfer payment to buy that package of diapers. They don’t pay taxes, but you can bet the businesses producing those goods and services pay a hefty tax bill. I know my company pays it’s fair share. Most importantly, this bill could enable parents to get their family off of government support.

This issue is my passion. I have done an enormous amount of research about the issue of getting diapers in the hands of needy families. As recently as last month, I had meetings with senior leadership in federal, state and local government agencies to discuss how we could partner with those agencies to reach out to those families. With each agency we’ve spoken with, we’ve found that leadership understands the need for diapers, but is prevented from acting to help families by the way legislation is written. The DIAPER Act is the first legislation we’ve seen that actually takes a step towards helping these families in a meaningful way.

I’ve focused most of this post on the human side of this issue, but from a business perspective, this legislation could be very meaningful for the diaper services within cloth diaper business community. If this bill passes, diaper services should experience an increase in their commercial subscribers.

I’d like to see the cloth diapering community get behind the Diaper Act. The community has a loud voice that frankly, could work to educate Rush Limbaugh and perhaps encourage him to change his opinion. If nothing else, we need to encourage Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro in her project, raise awareness, and, by doing so, help her find a co-sponsor for this piece of legislation.

Do you know a family who has struggled to purchase diapers (cloth or disposable)? Do you know a family living the reality of diapers or food? Are you that family? Please leave a comment telling me your story. I’m guessing that Rush’s team and the Congresswoman’s team will have Google Alerts to let them know that this post is here. They need to know who you are and what you think.

Other ways you can help:

EDITED (1/31/2012): Corrected and clarified to ensure accuracy.

Comments
39 Responses to “The DIAPER Act (HR 3134) Supports Cloth Diapers”
  1. This is the comment I left on Rush Limbaugh’s face book page –

    SINCE I CAN NOT POST ON YOUR WALL, I WILL JUST COPY MY COMMENT A FEW PLACES SO THAT YOU ARE SURE TO SEE IT, SINCE YOU DON’T ALLOW PEOPLE TO POST SO EVERYONE CAN READ IT.
    The Diaper Act (HR3134) as introduced by Rosa DeLauro is a good idea because as a single mom who had to work 50 + hours a week and would have to make the choice between diapers for my son, formula he wasn’t allergic to or food or clothes for myslef, i can tell you my son always came first. I had 1 pair of pants and 2 shirts for each of the 2 jobs I had (they had different requirements) and nightly I would wash them by hand and let them hang dry overnight and through the day, hoping they were dry enough to wear when I needed them or wear dirty or wet clothes. This would have been a great help to me, but the issue I always ran in to is as a single mom, living on my own that making enough money to pay rent, have car insurance, a phone, food, diapers, bills, etc… I never qualified for assistance, I got a second job as my assistance. I made too much to get help, but not enough to feed myself. I hope there is a way to help people who really need it. Please go to Jennifer Labit’s blog here – http://bit.ly/uSZ3hi and also her facebook page to see what many of us think.
    I know you may think it is ‘pampering’ but the fact that I had to make the choice between diapering my son or eating food is not right. I know I made the choice to get pregnant, a choice I made with my son’s father and I know that he made the choice to walk away. But the FACT that regardless of how it happened, I ended up being a parent who needed just a little bit of help and the ‘help’ I was given was FIA telling me to quit my job and they would give me $300 a month to live on plus food stamps. Since as a rational person I realized that ‘help’ was the WORST idea ever, I worked my butt off. My son had all of his needs met, by me. And because his needs were met, mine were not. I lost 70 pounds in one year while breastfeeding and working 50 hours a week. Please realize that diapers are NOT a luxury and not all parents can make the choices I made and choose diapers for their child over food.

  2. mimi says:

    I strongly disagree this is the solution. Government cant do anything better than the people and when the government is involved it usually cost more. If they continue to tax people to death, charity rates will continue to decline. My family would be considered very poor by the governments standards but, I am willing share my diapers with a needy family. Host, coordinate and put together diaper drives and classes to educate people about cloth diapers.I say let the people help each other. Don’t take that away from us.. I too feel for needy families who struggle. But, I don’t think that this is the right solution. Most ultra poor families are not having to choose between food and diapers because most of the severely poor are on food stamps.I do think there is an issue but I hardly think this is the solution.

  3. I am always happy to see strides for cloth diapers. As with any public assistance, this wouldn’t affect all families and couldn’t possibly help everyone who needed it.

    After the Flats Challenge I encouraged participants to reach out to their local community to try and offer one on one help to families who need it. Teach them how to cloth diaper for under 60.00 or even free, and show them how to handwash if it was needed.

    There are several non-profits aimed at distributing cloth diapers to income qualified families. One such organization is Giving Diapers, Giving Hope. I know both of the women who run it personally. I trust that diapers are being sent out to families. I donate a lot of diapers to them because I know they are going to great use. To anyone looking for a worthwhile organization to support with used diaper donations or financial contributions I can vouch for them.

    http://givingdiapersgivinghope.org

    I’d love to see more families empowered with cloth diapers. This is one way we can get more babies in CLEAN diapers, cloth or disposable. In the end, that is what matters.

  4. rebecca says:

    It is a great and wonderful thought, but there is so much abuse of government freebies, that I don’t see it really changing much. I believe that those that really need it will not be able to get it due to the guidelines or it just being used up. I myself was a very broke single mother, but I went without a lot so that my child would have what he needed, now I am married with two more kids, we are not well off,but we make do. I still will go without lots of things so that my kids have what thy need. Both my husband and I work full time and have always worked full time, even as a single mother. This is upsetting because I have been there, but I worked my butt off to make sure my child was taken care of, I have also worked at homeless shelters for women and children in a bigger city and many of those families were homeless, but had name brand expensive clothes for themselves and thei children, these would be the same people who would qualify for this bill and would use it up without any concerns for those that really need it. I love the idea of getting more to cloth diaper their babies, but am very tired of this mentality that the government can solve all of our problems by throwing money at it. We as a nation have to change our mindset and bring back the mentality that nothing is free and teach our kids to work hard and not wait for the government to do for us. I do not believe his will help get a lot of people back to work, there are so many out there that do not have kids and are not working, there is a mindset that people no longer have to work, they can just get assistance, or if I can’t get paid what I think I am worth I’m not working. I worked whatever job I could to earn money to support my son as many of the people who have already posted to this post, but we are not the majority of those that would benefit from this bill, I believe it would be those that will take the freebies so they can buy themselves something instead. I have seen this and grew up around this. I love BG and will support them, but I do not agree with this bill, but is also don’t have any other suggestions to help, except educating people in these desolate areas of the options of cloth vs disposable.

  5. Elyse says:

    In addition… I second allowing FS recipients to use part of their FS allowance for non-food. Our allowance is always more than we need and it would be helpful to use it on something else we need.
    Caveat: you also have to realize that not everyone on FS is as lucky as us. We have a car. We can get to a grocery store. We can take advantage of lower priced food and bulk items. Many urban very low income families on FS live in food deserts (areas w/o readily accessible grocery stores and fresh food) and cannot logistically get to a grocery store regularly. They rely on gas station stores for their food, diapers, and other necessities. Have you looked at the prices for these at your local gas station recently? Maybe once in a while they have the time to take a bus to the grocery store with their kids and take what they can carry in their hands home. However, feeding a family on gas station food is expensive and eats away at the generous allowance quickly.
    I’d also note that although food prices have inflated significantly in the last year, FS allowances have not kept up.
    So although this is a great idea, it won’t always solve the problem. It needs to be combined with increased access to markets and grocery stores so that low income families have a reasonable portion of their FS allowance left to spend on diapers etc. Otherwise they really will be choosing between food and diapers.

  6. Elyse says:

    I think several people have already brought up the important point of getting diapers to the low income parents without children in daycare. We haven’t had to choose between diapers and food thank goodness, however we have had to choose between a job and child care. My husband has not been able to find a job that would cover the cost of putting both our children in day care. Fact is, minimum wage doesn’t cover daycare for two. Neither does $10 an hour. Granted, this DIAPER ACT seems to be written so that it would benefit parents on ABC vouchers and similar programs — these parents I would assume are not having trouble affording daycare because its covered by ABC vouchers. It is difficult to even get ABC vouchers though. I looked into it for us and only 20% of qualified applicants get assistance in my county. They aren’t even accepting applications right now.

    The pessimistic side of me wonders how realistic it is that day care centers will use and hand out cloth diapers. Fact is disposables are easy. Use it and toss it. No special folds, no scraping off poo. It is easier to fit them without leaks. If cloth diapers are going to be used by facilities and parents, education needs to occur as well. There is a learning curve to cloth diapers that needs to be overcome for successful use. I think collaboration also needs to happen with the local health department to outline safe standards for using cloth diapers in clear language.

    As for the washing machine problem — lets assume no low income family that would qualify for diaper assistance has a washing machine. Realistically this is probably true. Low rent apartments don’t come with private washing machines and rarely come with effective community washers. Even if a parent has the time to use community washers and dryers, the cost will make cloth diapering more expensive than disposables. I know because that’s the reason we hand wash. For those low income parents with kids in day care receiving cloth diapers through the daycare — make it so that they can bring the dirty diapers from home to the daycare to be sent off with the daycare laundry (assuming the daycare is using a service). My fear is parents will return their child in the same diaper they picked the child up in because they do not have clean ones at home. For those moms who do not utilize day care (family sitters?) laundry services need to be more accessible. There is not a diaper laundry service in my city, which is a shame since it is one of the largest cities in the state (and the capital to boot). Once diaper laundry services are available we can talk about laundry subsidies for parents receiving cloth diapers.

    Side note: I would look into the WIC program as a platform for educating low income mothers about cloth diaper options. New mothers are required to attend a ‘class’ once every three months about nutrition. It would be a good opportunity to talk about cloth diapers and it would be hitting the correct demographic. If you could talk to pregnant mothers on WIC that would be great too. I think you would be more likely to hit SAHM versus day care mothers through WIC, although I’m not sure. The classes are usually during working hours which is the reason I dropped out of the program.

  7. @Suzanne, I understand that the Diaper Bank (New Haven) accepts cloth diapers. I would definitely contact them, and if you are up for the challenge, ask them if they have any volunteer opportunities to provide cloth diapering education to their partners. – Lisa

  8. Suzanne says:

    Jennifer,

    My son’s nursery school, Westville Community Nursery School in New Haven, Ct, partners with the New Haven Diaper Bank every year and hosts a diaper drive for Make A Difference Day. The children decorate boxes which are placed in 5 locations around the community to collect diapers for needy families. Every year, being a cd’ing mom, i wonder if there is some way to approach the Diaper Bank about helping needy moms with cloth diapers too. Any suggestions?

    • amanda says:

      A few years back there was a facebook-based campaign where (mostly moms) contacted diaper banks about donating cloth diapers, but the answers were always “No” – poor people either can’t afford to wash them or do not have access to washer and drier. Of course we know that this isn’t always the case. Because of this I don’t support ANY movement to provide via diaper drives – until the organizers of diaper drives are educated on how cloth diapers work/used/easy they are, even if you don’t have a washer and dryer, there isn’t much to do. Perhaps this year you can contact the Diaper Bank and invite them to see how cloth works?

  9. Sara says:

    First I want to thank you for bringing attention to this issue. It is one that is very dear to me because I grew up in those poor areas no one mentions and most forget but also because I was a teen mom who could of used the help and education you are offering these girls. It is really important that people are made aware of how much just diapers, especially reusable diapers, can help these families. I have since been able to move forward in life and my children don’t remember those areas of town, it was a struggle but we were able to get out. I do everything I can to help out and am so thankful that someone else is talking about this.

  10. lmo says:

    Thanks for doing this work! As the above post attests, people don’t donate in any way that meets need, which is exactly why we government mandated support. Great work getting involved with wonderful legislation!

  11. Jennifer, Thank you so much for this amazing blog post. I’m touched by your efforts in meeting with officials, as well as your ongoing advocacy and philanthropic work providing cloth diapers to families. HAMO, for one, has been very grateful to have been a recipient of your Econobum diapering kits for our families.

    I wanted to let your readers know that they can also take action by contacting their U.S. legislators and ask them to co-sponsor the bill (http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml). Phone calls go a LONG WAY. You can call and say “I am a constituent and I support the DIAPER ACT. I am asking you to co-sponsor the bill with Rep. DeLauro. As well, HAMO has an online petition that people can sign (takes less than a minute) http://www.helpamotherout.org/diaperact/ , and also by visiting The Diaper Difference Coaltion http://diaperdifference.org/ for detailed information on the legislation. I am super inspired by your story of building Cotton Babies, and advocating for those who are less fortunate. Thank you so much for all of your efforts. – Lisa T.

  12. Megan says:

    Interesting timing to see this. Jennifer, I’m one of your retailers in Colorado, specifically Colorado Baby (we’ve chatted before in person at the ABC Expo of 2010). A local group of people just organized a diaper drive here in our area. They were open to cloth diapers or disposable diapers. They then distributed the donated diapers to the local food bank to further distribute to families in need that come through the food bank.

    Here at Colorado Baby we were offering the Econobum Full Kit for purchase specifically towards the diaper drive. We offered to donate a free kit for every 10 kits purchased.

    Unfortunately the efforts didn’t go far as there is such a lack of knowledge and understanding when it comes to the diaper need topic. The idea has been tossed around to turn this diaper drive idea into a quarterly event to help gain momentum for it.

    What I liked about the idea of the diaper drive was that, in my personal views, it was based upon people giving out of their own pockets — rather than government mandated taxes. I am 100% conservative as well, small business owner, etc. I’m very supportive of the tax paying people (and all people) being able to choose to give to organizations rather than being forced.

    Please take time to watch this short news coverage we got: http://www.kjct8.com/news/29479694/detail.html

    We also were covered (with the Econobum Kit on display) by another news station, but they never put the video up on their site. If they do, I’ll link you to it.

    Call me if you’d like to talk more about this and the efforts on a local standpoint. My number should be on file :)

    -Megan

  13. Steph says:

    i agree with the poster above, somewhat. i think it should be for ANY family who also needs foodstamps/whatnot – because there are needy families who don’t use daycare. I qualify for the daycare subsidy, but have not used it yet because of two reasons, one i don’t want my son in a large classroom full of infants and two I”m lucky enough to have people who are helping me out. Currenlty (on my 20hr/week salary) I only pay for 2 days of daycare and the other 3 are free, I don’t have any money to spare, and i cloth diaper, but they are/were expensive. But i think its ridiculous that because I don’t choose to put my child in a state run daycare facility that I wouldn’t have access to diapers as well?

    In response to someones comment earlier – about daycares not cloth diapering, It baffels my mind how ‘storing’ the waste in a piece of cloth that is reuseable, as opposed to storing it in a piece of cloth/plastic (cause disposables have cotton in them…) that is disposable is different. Do these people realize that the ‘disposable’ waste stays on site as well? ANND although its more work, you could always flush the waste down the toilet (like you’re supposed to anyways) and then it would be gone! Imagine that…..

  14. I am very supportive of this and would like to write a blog post to help spread information about this. I am curious however why not a law that amends WIC or SNAP (foodstamps) to allow diapers (as defined above, bravo!) rather than write a new law/program? Would it be more difficult to get passed or harder to administer?

    It would be wonderful if it could be written to allow daycare providers to provide the diapers, because there’s definitely economy of scale there, however that wouldn’t work for all the time the child is not in daycare.

  15. Mrs.Opinion says:

    One of the problems faced by parents who have children in daycare is that a daycare often refuses to take cloth diapered children as a matter of course. It’s too much trouble for them. They have strict diaper changing guidelines that they have to follow in order to be State certified and part of that is the disposal of diapers. The reality is, that even though cloth diapers are offered, most will be forced to choose disposable because of child care regulations. One would will really need to work at changing the subsidized child care regulations as well as what qualifies for assistance.

    I would much rather see a non-profit that takes used/donated diapers of all brands and types to give to the needy – whether they work outside the home or not. CottonBabies has the audience. Diaper Hyena has the audience. Diaper Pin has the audience. Happy Heinys has the audience. Fuzzi Bunz and so on. It is a cause that you can work to get the word out to everyone who cloth diapers simply by putting it on your front page.

    I can’t tell you how many I’ve passed on cloth diapers to friends, who already have an abundance, but didn’t know anyone else who truly needed them for their children. I’d buy an extra pack of cloth inserts with my order to be given to a family who needs them. Perhaps a sewing circle would make diapers like my grandmother did when she was expecting her first. I’d donate cloth, thread and needles. I’d buy a pack of prefolds, some Snappis and some Dappy’s for a family who needs them. If 1 out of 5 people buying cloth on every cloth diaper site did the same, I bet we’d put a huge dent in the diapering need of these communities.

    You have two needs here. The parent that has to use subsidized daycare to work. They need disposables. The second need is for the family that has a parent or relative to stay at home with the babies. They could conceivably cloth diaper with help and training. The cost savings would be enormous and reusable for future children in the family. It’s a cause worthy of all CD’ing companies getting together on.

    • I believe the guidelines for child care centers and diapers vary from state to state. In MA there is a state-required form parents have to fill out and provide to the daycare about their children when they send them. One of the questions is about diapers and asks if you use cloth or disposable. My daycare didn’t blink at cloth, and neither did any of the daycares that my boss interviewed last spring. We are in a working-class community on the edge of Boston. Cloth diapers are specifically allowed, there is a statement about having a sealed container for each child’s non-disposable diapers that must be returned to the parents at the end of each day.

      I found another site that says
      “Some daycare facilities say they “can’t” use cloth diapers. This is personal policy rather than law. States have varying regulations on diapering procedures, but cloth is rarely, if ever, prohibited. A daycare’s refusal to use cloth may stem from a misunderstanding of regulations, unfamiliarity with modern cloth diapers, or the perception that cloth diapers are more work.” http://www.daycarematch.com/child-daycare-articles/how-to-use-cloth-diapers-at-daycare.asp

  16. Mary Ann says:

    My husband was laid off when I was 8 months pregnant with our second child, who is now almost 4 months old. We had just purchased a house based on the prospects of this job and now we were without income as well as health insurance. We were not eligible for cobra, but I was fortunate enough to get Medicaid for myself and my children (my husband was denied medical benefits). Because my husband decided to start his own business to generate some income, he disqualified himself from unemployment benefits. The business (a video and events production company) is doing well – for a NEW and SMALL business. Meanwhile, our debt is growing as we have to use credit to buy things like shampoo, and our savings are shrinking as we work to keep up with the mortgage. I’m grateful for the 6 cloth diapers I purchased before my daughter was born. Now, each month after bills are paid we hope to have enough leftover to add another cloth diaper to the stash. Diapers are a huge expense and a necessity. For my part, I think this is a great piece of legislation.

  17. guest says:

    Here’s another concept – why not change legislation to allow food stamp recipients to use food stamps for a specified amount of non-food stamp items – within an allowable list. Like WIC – there could be a system in place that allows for diapers, toiletries, toilet paper, and cleaning products – within a certain dollar value. ANY family that receives TANF and/or food stamps faces a monthly challenge to purchase these items each month. Why not have an allowance (or coupons like a WIC system) that allows for these items? If you need diapers and wipes, that allowance could be higher.

    When my daughter was a newborn, I breastfed. My foodstamp and TANF allowance was based on a family of two. At $150 a month, my TANF did NOT pay my bills – and I had NOTHING except shelter and electricity (no car, no tv, no phone, no washer/dryer). However, because we were a family of two, I received almost $400 in food stamps. So, where did I run short? Diapers, shampoo, laundry soap, etc. I won’t tell you what I did…..but I did what I had to do. My breastfed baby did NOT need an additional $200 in food. Even if she did, I was eligible for WIC. It made NO sense to me.

    So, instead of providing diapers for ONLY moms who use daycare services, how about allowing ANY family getting food stamps to use some of that for items necessary for maintaining standard hygiene?

    • Timmi Dobesh says:

      I love the idea of this. It really makes sense, not that this diaper act is bad, this in theory makes more sense, because some people simply aren’t able to go to work. We were in a bad place financially over the past year, yet we were unable to qualify for any assistance at all because we made too much money, though $20-$40 a week is reasonable for a family of 4, and getting our utilities shut off every other month is ok as well. Thank goodness I use cloth! this was an expense that I am so thankful I did not have to somehow force into my budget. (I want to point out that we don’t have alot of monthly bills, phone internet, house, food and utilities, that’s it) so some of us need help but are unable to get it something that isn’t focused on as much

      • Kim says:

        I agree here as well. I used to be a social worker before being a sahm and I must say that getting people aide in any kind of program is very difficult and anything that can be done to simplify things is worth it. Building on an existing infrastructure is key. WIC is a great program but if a diaper provision was added to any of the programs it would be great. The key is to simplify. Another problem with doing it this way is overhead. A lot of money would go into organizing a system and there would not be as much provided for the people. Another thought I had upon reading this is for the individuals who have disabilities and there families. There are a lot of people with disabilities and their families who really struggle with having enough money for survival. Also, some people with disabilities do not grow out of diapers or do learn to use the toilet but not until a much older age. There are programs all over the country that work with families of people with disabilities. I used to work with one in Maryland called healthy families. If funding or even a charity could be set up to donate diapers and detergent to programs like these, then I think a world of good would come. I really would like to help in this effort. I think a lot of people would, it will probably take a grass roots effort in order to really help people. The more people that act, the better things will be. So far I am working to get a few of my friends who struggle financially set up with cloth, it is not everyone, it is not a huge thing, but it makes a difference for the few. I just had a thought. What if in the CD community we had something set up like heiffers international. Where people could I would be more than happy to donate my time in my area as part of the cause. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help!

    • Beth R. says:

      I second this, to allow food stamps to buy necessities as well! This and allow the diapers from this topic to families without kids in daycare as well!

  18. Sarah says:

    I myself do not know of anyone off hand who is in that dire of a circumstance. Yet, when I was a child, we were staying at a Bed and Breakfast somewhere, and my mother remembers that a family had been staying there long term due to financial constraints. Their room smelled horrible because they were reusing disposables. The ones that had not been pooped in were laid out to try on the radiator, thus the smell of ammonia traveled out of their room. My heart breaks for anyone who is in that situation. I have watched many videos on how to make your own cloth diapers, I know how to crochet an awesome wool soaker, and I stand at the ready to help if I am ever needed.
    I am behind the diaper act because if we are willing to help families buy food, formula, etc, diapers should be included in that. We are not a third world country and there should be great shame that we are letting our own live in ramshackle conditions. We are so eager to help other countries but have turned a blind eye to our own. Shame on us.

  19. Barbie S says:

    Jennifer, this is so well written and poignant! Thank you for really delving in and giving out good, clear information. You could have easily been overly biased based on your own business, but yet you chose to keep that on the back burner and talk about the deeper issues.

    We are blessed enough to not be in that situation, but I had a friend who was several years ago. At 20yr old she had a daughter, worked full-time, paid her own bills, and because she had no support from the biological father, she came up about $250 or more short each month. Diapers and formula were literally eating HER lunch. She had state benefits for her daughter’s healthcare, but she made too much money to qualify for herself, yet she couldn’t really afford the premiums of the insurance offered at work. I know something as simple as help with diapers would have been a lifesaver for her and her daughter!

  20. Jodi Howell says:

    I have 7 children. I always wanted a big family but had thought there would be more time between them. Be that as it may, I have had to leave diapers on a little longer than desired so we could stretch them(disposables). I never reused one but I can see that if things had not gotten better for us at that time I might of had to. After our third child I started researching cloth diapers. I am sorry to say it has taken me to our last child to be completely cloth diapering. But I think this bill would be such a tremendous help. Especially if we can help families find diapers and routines (for cleaning and diapering)that work for them. If I had help in this I know I would of completely cloth diapered more of my children instead of the hit and miss. I am excited to see how this works out because I see it having a huge impact on our communities. While I would hope people would consider cloth, I would just be happy that the families would not have to go hungry and have diapers whatever kind they choose. Maybe they could get with local agencies and set up information on cloth diapers and possibly have it to where so many could be donated so families could try them. I don’t want people losing out on money but i know what stopped me a lot of times was just plain lack of knowledge. I will be following this. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

  21. I have mixed feelings. The government is broke… beyond broke. However, there is definitely a need. I have been frustrated by the fact that a lot of charities won’t take cloth diapers. My husband has worked with inner city families and he understands why. Some families just don’t have… a car to go shopping, so they pay 3x-4x what they should for food at the corner market. Many are single working moms, the TV is on 24/7, the house is never clean, and laundry never done. They are constantly scrambling to even stay alive. How can some of these people who REALLY NEED reusable diapers be expected to add the wash diapers routine to their chaos? You’re so right. It’s a different culture, a completely different way of living. Keep looking for ways to help and let us know how we can help. I appreciate the work you do. I wish I could do more.

  22. katherine says:

    I am a staunch opposer of Rush Limbaugh but am always curious to see what his take is. On this he might have a valid point. Who will qualify for these diapers? Is it only people who take their children to day care? And at that specific daycare? I’m sure there are families who qualify for food stamps etc who don’t send their children to daycare, even if both their parents work. I will reread the post again but if someone can answer this, I’m interested to know the answer.

  23. Mindy says:

    Thank you for this thoughtful and insightful post, Jennifer. I read the quote from Limbaugh this morning and thought there must be something more to this proposed Act. I think this is a very complex issue and I appreciate how you have considered multiple sides.

    In a culture where I hear so many people angry and frustrated that our existing system does not provide enough limits on what people can purchase, I see this bill as a very hard sell. You don’t know how often I hear generally kind, good hearted people airing frustrations that someone with food stamps or WIC is purchasing name brand items and extras while they are clipping coupons and buying generic. I think the big question will be “Why doesn’t existing aid cover diapers? Why isn’t there money for diapers when they receive so much in aid already?” Obviously, education about the real needs people are facing and how government programs work is needed.

    I also think the idea of the flats challenge is noble, but it feels unrealistic to me. I cloth diaper my baby and until a month ago had 2 in cloth. I am a SAHM who chose cloth to save money and to be more eco-conscious and I balked at the idea of hand washing flats. I can’t imagine that someone who is working a full-time job, struggling financially, and potentially a single parent is going to see hand washing flats as a realistic option. Perhaps I am wrong.

    After reading your article, it seems that the best solution here might be to provide diapers directly to day care providers who serve these families. I am not certain how reusing pocket diapers would work in this situation, so it seems a grant to cover costs of a diaper service or flats/prefolds, covers, and detergent would seem to make the most sense. If this grant is specifically aimed at children in daycare, then it seems most practical to have donations of diapers or grants for diapers/detergent/utilities go directly to those locations. This seems like it would make it easier for government oversight over the aid as well.

    All this being said, I am very interested in the work you are doing to promote helping those in need gain access to diapering supplies and to raise public awareness about the affordability of cloth diapering. I would love to hear how I could become involved in person, through my blog, or both.

  24. Elise says:

    I am one of those cloth diapering moms who disagrees with the bill. I agree with the idea, however, there are many moms who also cannot afford childcare, therefore they still cannot go to work. These moms need diapers, too. I am a stay at home mom and one of my best friends is, too. The difference between our situations is that she has 6 kids, one of which has special needs, and I have only 2 kids. She couldn’t work enough to be able to put her kids in childcare, since only 3 of them are school age. She would have to pay for after-school care, as well. She cannot afford diapers and is lucky enough to have parents who delight in buying her necessities. Her husband works full-time and does part-time work on the side. Bills get paid (most of the time), and food is on the table, but not without strenuous budgeting. They are not on public assistance, though they would qualify. They wouldn’t be eligible to receive the diaper assistance that would be offered here, even though they would be considered one of the more priority cases in some opinions. My argument is that there are many many needy families who do not put their children into daycare because they cannot afford it. These people would be overlooked for diaper assistance, and that is sad. The assistance would still go to middle class working families, instead of those below poverty who really really can’t afford childcare and diapers.

    • Alicia says:

      The families that would qualify for the diaper assistance would qualify for daycare vouchers as well-so the daycare would be paid for or drastically reduced depending on the individual situation.

  25. Rebekah Zenn says:

    Thank you for this post! My husband and I listen to Rush Limbaugh all the time, and his rants on this subject angered me a lot. I’m curious- is there a fund of some sort that people can donate into, to help provide diapers for needy families? It would be neet to see CottonBabies do a matching program, like for every 10 (or 15, or whatever) diapers donated by people, the site would add 1. Or something like that. Anyway, I would love to help out in some way, and I’m sure others feel the same way.

  26. Laura says:

    Thank you for your efforts. I will try to follow the legislation. One thing to add, or maybe you already have an answer- many states (Florida, for one) have regulations that essentially prohibit cloth diapering in child care facilities, due to the fact that the “waste” is retained onsite, albeit temporarily. With my daughter, her provider was able to work with us to come up with a storage solution that complied with the regulations, but it wasn’t easy. I’ve thought this was silly for some time.

  27. CH says:

    I am very excited to learn of the Diaper Act! We have 4 children ages 12 to 1 and there have been countless times that we have struggled to find the money for diapers and wipes. In April of this year I began cloth diapering my then 7 month old and 27 month old, and at night time my 7 year old (who, thanks to cloth, now stays dry at night *yay*). Many times since then I have wished that I knew about cloth diapers 12 years ago! The last few months have been extremely difficult for us financially – we are considering bankruptcy – and I have no doubt that if we were still using disposable diapers we would have had to choose between diapers and food. The need for diaper assistance is REAL.

  28. Thank you so much for sharing this. I had not heard of the Diaper Act before now and am happy to see that it should allow for cloth. I will be sharing through my social media outlets in a moment.

    I remember reading your “Almost Free Diapers” post a while back. To think that families could be in such a position that they would consider reusing disposable diapers is just heartbreaking. I am happy to see something from the government aimed at helping families in this position.

    You mentioned affordable detergent above. I share a recipe on my blog for detergent. It’s not fancy, but I have used it for more than three years now. I have had to switch up my routine when my children started solids, but slight changes aside, this has worked for me. It does cost a little to make (about $30) but a single batch lasted me more than a year, and I use it on clothes as well. Smaller batches can be made, and off brand products can help lower the cost. Many of my readers use this on both clothes and diapers with success.

    http://www.theecofriendlyfamily.com/2009/08/cloth-diaper-detergent.html

    I’m not sure of your thoughts on homemade detergents, but it has worked for me and the low cost can really be a huge help.

    • JuJuBee says:

      Here’s my detergent recipe,too….a little different but I’ve used it for many,many years. Works fantastic and low cost.
      I love this idea. I make homemade cloth diapers and collect gently used ones for teen parents. Right now I have a stash sitting here, waiting to be distributed because some of the moms who would like to use them have no means of laundering.It’s a definite obstacle.

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  1. [...] is a summary of information provided by Jennifer Labit of Cotton Babies on the Diaper Investment and Aid to Promote Economic Recovery [...]

  2. [...] had never even heard of The DIAPER Act until this past week. It’s a shame it’s not been put out there more so more people can [...]

  3. [...] line of products met with Congresswoman Rosas DeLauro this week in Washington, DC to discuss the DiaperACT and what steps we can all take to ensure that cloth diapers are included in this legislation. [...]

  4. [...] is a cross post, with permission from Jennifer Labit, Founder and CEO of Cotton Babies, and creator of awesome cloth [...]



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