White House Program Aims to Help the Poor Get Diapers

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The White House is taking on what it has referred to as "the diaper divide" with a test program designed to help lower-income families.

The White House is taking on what it has referred to as “the diaper divide” and “diaper disparity.”

The effort seeks to bring more affordable diapers within reach for lower-income families lacking the resources needed to purchase the essential items for babies’ health at cheaper prices.

Cecilia Muñoz, an assistant to President Barack Obama and director of the Domestic Policy Council, writes in a blog post Thursday announcing the effort :

“These struggling families may not have access to transportation to the big box store, the credit or capital to buy in bulk at cheaper prices, or the access to Internet or ability to receive packages required for online subscription services. The technology that makes life easier for so many of us just doesn’t provide the necessary supports for these families.”

Nearly 1 in 3 families struggles to afford diapers, according to the blog post.

Families with infants who are in the lowest-20-percent income bracket spend 14 percent of their income on diapers, an average of $936 annually, Muñoz writes. Many higher-income families, by comparison, pay less than half that amount.

As a result, some families find themselves choosing between buying diapers and paying for food, rent or utilities. In some cases, struggling parents stretch the time between diaper changes to make diapers last longer, which can lead to health complications such as urinary and staph infections for their babies.

The president’s latest budget proposal calls for $10 million “to test effective ways to get diapers to families in need and document the health improvements that result,” Muñoz writes.

In the meantime, however, the White House is “getting creative and using every tool we have to help solve this problem.” Currently, that means partnerships between online retailers, diaper manufacturers and nonprofit organizations.

The blog post concludes:

“By calling these companies and nonprofits to the table, we are breaking down the barriers to access and harnessing the tools of the new economy so that they can benefit all families. When you have a baby, diapers are a necessity. They are not optional.”

What’s your take on this new effort by the White House? Let us know how you feel about it below or on Facebook.

Stacy Johnson

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