Take Action: Diapers Keep Babies Healthy and California Families Strong

Jul 25, 2014
Melissa Trent

Page Media

For many low-income families in California, providing basic necessities for their babies, such as diapers, can be a challenge. Diapers can cost up to $100 per month, a significant burden for families that are already struggling financially. Unfortunately, state programs that otherwise provide support to California’s poorest families—CalFresh (food stamps) and the California Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)--include diapers on a list of disallowed items along with alcohol and cigarettes. This means that these families aren’t receiving the help they need to keep their babies in clean diapers.  A new bill, sponsored by California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez is aimed at fixing this problem.

The proposed bill, AB 1516, would provide $80 per month to eligible children receiving public assistance in order to help offset the cost of diapers.  Additionally, the bill would create a new public-private fund, the Unmet Diaper Need Financing Fund, which would receive public funding and private donations. The fund would then provide financial assistant to agencies and organizations that help get diapers to the families that need them most.

AB 1516 is urgently needed because everyday mothers and fathers struggle to provide diapers necessary to keep their families strong and healthy.  Babies in dirty diapers can suffer a variety of health consequences including painful diaper rashes and infections, fevers, and renal failure. Additionally, childcare centers require parents to drop off a full day’s worth of diapers when they leave their children. This pushes families even further into poverty when parents who can’t provide diapers have to miss work or school to stay home with their children.

Not having access to diapers is devastating for these children and their families. AB 1516’s $80 contribution to a family struggling with poverty will mean the difference between happy, healthy babies and sick babies.  It’s the difference between mothers and fathers going to work and school and those forced to stay home with a child. The Healthy Babies Act supports healthy communities, educated and employed adults, and happy children.

The ACLU stands with California’s neediest families and supports Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez’s bill to provide diapers for those who need them most. The Healthy Babies Act is currently being held in the Senate Appropriations Committee and the decision whether the bill will move forward will be made by August 15th. Please join the ACLU in supporting children and their families by calling the Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator De Leon at (916) 651-4022. Tell Senator De Leon that you support the Healthy Babies Act because you want stronger families and healthier happy babies.

You can also send him this tweet: @kdleon Diapers keep babies healthy and families strong! Support AB 1516!  #diapers

Melissa Trent is a legal and policy intern in the ACLU of Northern California’s Reproductive Justice Project.