Despite how critical diapers are, there are no direct state-level government benefits in place to allow caregivers who cannot otherwise afford them to access diapers.

According to a recent national survey published by the National Diaper Bank Network, approximately one in two caregivers experience diaper insecurity. Caregivers experiencing diaper insecurity often resort to stretching the length of time between diaper changes or using other materials as a substitute. This has a profound impact on children and caregivers financially, emotionally, and physically. For example:

  1. One in three caregivers report skipping a bill to afford diapers.
  2. 28 percent of adults experiencing diaper insecurity reported skipping meals to conserve money.
  3. Mothers who experience diaper insecurity are more likely to report depression
    and anxiety.

Governor J.B Pritzker’s diaper proposal presents the General Assembly with an opportunity to amplify the Governor’s work and build a multifaceted approach to eliminating diaper insecurity in Illinois.

Read the full report, here.

What can legislators do to prevent diaper insecurity?

Governor J.B Pritzker’s inclusion of a diaper program in his proposed budget is a great first step in recognizing the impact diaper insecurity has on a young family. The General Assembly can expand on that approach by developing policies that make diapers more accessible and affordable for families. There are five policy options available to legislators.

Diaper Allowance (SB3162)

A diaper allowance would provide funds for purchasing diapers for parents or caregivers under a specific income limit. Similar policies exist in four states and have been proposed in several others. This session, legislation proposed by Senator Lakesia Collins would provide $70 per month per child under three years old for caregivers under the poverty line. An allowance is the gold standard for diaper policy – caregivers would be able to purchase diapers directly and the allowance would make a significant impact on their budget.

Fund Early Childhood Providers to Purchase Diapers

Many child care providers will turn away families if they do not supply diapers for their child. A 2023 study from the National Diaper Bank Network of caregivers experiencing diaper insecurity found one in four avoided child care due to a lack of diapers. Legislation to be carried by Representative Joyce Mason would require the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) to offer additional funding to providers specifically for the purchase of diapers, ensuring that a lack of diapers does not hinder a child’s access to early care and education in Illinois.

Maximizing Medicaid Dollars to Tackle Diaper Insecurity

Just as states have used Medicaid waivers to mitigate homelessness and food insecurity, combatting diaper insecurity would continue Medicaid’s role in combatting the social determinants of health. States like Connecticut and California are exploring the possibility of offering diapers as a benefit through Medicaid programs.

Eliminate or Reduce the Diaper Tax

Illinois taxes each package of diapers at 6.25 percent. 24 states have reduced or eliminated the diaper tax, including Florida, Iowa, Texas, and Ohio. Although a diaper tax reduction can benefit many families, it will only save families just under $80 per year.

Use State Dollars to Increase Diaper Distribution

By providing grants to community-based organizations, the state can expand their capacity to distribute diapers to those in need. While several states have included money in their budgets for diaper distribution, the challenge lies in meeting the high demand for diapers across the state.

Now that you’ve read about diaper insecurity, take action by telling your legislator to support our efforts by filling out the form below!

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