Want a Diaper Subsidy? Show Politicians What Not Having Diapers Can Do

It has been a long, long time that I’ve been stuck in the land of diapers. From the birth of my daughter almost seven years ago, followed by my other children one after one, I have been purchasing diapers of some sort for at least one child since 2007. There was that magnificent, glorious period of about two months where my oldest was only using a diaper at night and I hadn’t yet given birth to my second, but that was quickly made up for when she fell off the wagon as a reaction to no longer being an only child. Since then it has been non-stop, and often more than one child at a time.

No wonder I always feel broke.

Luckily, with two fairly steady incomes in our home, purchasing diapers has been more of an annoyance than a hardship, although I must admit that as we start edging our youngest towards potty training, I can’t help but count the months until hopefully an end will be in sight. For our family, who easily spends anywhere from $50 to $100 a month on diapers (and yes, has been doing so for almost 7 years, for a rough estimate of nearly $20,000 overall), the cost is inconvenient but something we can handle. For someone who struggles to meet basic expenses? That is nearly insurmountable.

I’ve been advocating for a diaper subsidy for years here at Care2, arguing that programs like WIC and SNAP need to relax their rules and allow diapers, which are a completely unavoidable part of parenting a baby or toddler, to be covered as an essential. “The government provides assistance to help with families who can’t afford the high prices of formula and other food for children, via programs like WIC (Women and Children) or foodstamps,” I wrote in 2010. ”But for unavoidable necessities like diapers, parents, most often mothers, still require cash to be able to pay for them. And to have that cash, they must find someplace else to cut corners.”

Now maybe, just maybe, we are getting one step closer to that finally happening. California lawmakers are introducing Assembly Bill 1516, a bill which would allow an $80 a month subsidy for diaper purchasing for parents on welfare. The $80 is per child, as well, as long as the child is under 2-years-old (which sets an unreasonable level for potty training, frankly, since most children don’t even start until 2 and a half or 3, but that is a whole other argument).

The bill’s author, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, poses the reform as a way to help get parents back to work and off the welfare program itself. “Gonzalez said easing diaper costs would help families exit CalWORKS, the state’s welfare program. Most child-care centers, even those subsidized by the state, require parents to bring four or five diapers per child per day,” reports UT San Diego. “Parents who cannot afford the diapers might decide to stay at home with their children and forego searching for a job,” Gonzalez said.

Oddly enough, Republicans are opposed to it in the sort of “they brought it on themselves” mentality that seems to go hand in hand with poor women having children. One opponents said there should be “plenty of existing resources” to get diapers from, while another states that it’s impossible to prove that the $80 is actually going to keep the child covered.

“We do want to provide resources when there’s an absolute need, especially with children who can’t help themselves,” said Amanda Fulkerson, a spokeswoman for the Assembly Republican Caucus. “But, right now, the way it’s crafted, there’s no way to verify that the need is actually being met.”

The dismissive, “that money could end up anywhere” mentality makes it clear that Republicans don’t seem to understand that diapers are a necessity in parenting and, without them, it’s pretty obvious when that need isn’t being met.

As a supporter of the legislation I have one suggestion for those who would like to see the subsidy pass. Take your children, set them on a lawmaker’s lap, and show them exactly what happens when a person doesn’t have the money to afford diapers.

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Jim Ven
Jim Ven11 months ago


Jerome S
Jerome S11 months ago

thanks for sharing.

Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for the article.

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill3 years ago

Tonya F. & Kathy S. and others are right! If you can't afford children, don't have them! We had 3. I used cloth diapers, raised gardens, always hung clothes outside on the lines all kinds of money saving things. I REALLY HATE the idea of supporting people I don't know! I don't want to pay for your birth control, abortions or support!

Tonya Freeman
Tonya Freeman3 years ago

I have a very dear friend who recently gave birth to her second child. She has been married for seven years. Their first child is 9 years of age now.

They are a two income, two car family. She received 50% pay while on maternity leave. Once the baby was born, she applied for a received assistance from WIC. It helps a lot.

I asked the question about WIC providing diapers because a baby eats, a baby poops and pees. She laughed and let me know that diapers are not subsidized.

I spoke to her of cloth diapers to no avail.She looked at me like I was crazy or something...lol

Of course they are less costly in one respect but it's not just about the cost factor, its about the environment, the health of the baby...those things to me are most important.

There are times when people need a hand up, to make it through rough periods. Yes, there are those that take advantage of the system, then again, they learned from the best...there are those wealthy families that got their money by being greedy, with a lust for power and control...but that's a whole 'nother story.

Save the children, they are the future. How they are treated today, determines how they will be as contributing, responsible adults in the future.

Maybe, instead of the government providing disposable diapers, they provide cloth diapers instead. Again, less costly and far better all the way around from my perspective,

Kathy Stack
Kathy Stack3 years ago

Personally, I am sick of supporting everyone else. If you want children, have a number you can take care of yourself. I will no longer give a dime to anyone who wants it for their child. My parents (father an alcoholic) supported 5 children. My father worked two jobs in order to make ends meet. When my sibling married (shocking, I know!) my mother told them to have children only IF they wanted children--don't have children for her sake. I have 4 nephews and 1 niece. My one brother has no children; I have none. Another brother and his wife adopted their two children. My siblings did not ask others for help. If they needed something extra, the family helped if possible. If we did not have it, then the money was borrowed from a bank, etc. Every dime was paid back.
People think they have a "right" to breed as many children as they want. Well, if you want it, then you take care of it. Maybe we need to start "spaying and neutering" those who don't practice birth control. People who continue to have children they do not take care of or don't support are parasites. I will no longer be a host to parasites!

Pamela Bacon
Pamela B3 years ago


As others have commented, don't have something unless you can afford to take care of it. I don't have children, don't want children and don't want to subsidize other people's children in any way, shape or form. I have pets instead. So unless everyone is going to start subsidizing their care keep your hands off my money!

Susan T.
Susan T3 years ago

yeah, no. I can understand the feeling behind this but then why not toilet paper? soap, shampoo, all toiletries?

Like I said, yest these items cost money....don't have kids....newsflash~~~ raising kids costs ALOT of money, which is one of the main reasons I don't have any....I could not afford one.

Personal responsibility FOLKS, :)

Charlie Rush
Charlene Rush3 years ago

There should not be a father alive on this planet, that has not changed his fair share of diapers, PERIOD !!!

Karen H.
Karen H3 years ago

Cloth diapers are a viable alternative, but they also cost money. There's washing and drying, which uses detergent, electricity... It ain't cheap making sure baby's poo don't end up on Daddy's lap.