An economic recovery bill authored by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D.-Conn.) seeks to empower struggling families by directing the federal government to distribute free diapers through day care centers.
The Diaper Investment and Aid to Promote Economic Recovery Act (DIAPER Act) would “relieve some of the stress on families facing hardship in this economy” by providing this direct service, DeLauro said in a letter to congressional colleagues urging them to co-sponsor her bill.
Without diapers, children are not allowed to attend day care, said DeLauro, who described those in need as a “lost generation of Americans.”
“In fact, over one in five mothers have had to skip an obligation and stay home with their child because of lack of diapers,” DeLauro said. “And losing out on day care makes it even harder for parents to put in a full day’s work.”
“We all believe that nothing we do in government is as important as ensuring the next generation has the tools they need to thrive. But for our children and our nation to succeed, we have to support their development, their families, and the public policies that ensure opportunity. Ensuring that low-income families have access to diapers through the DIAPER Act is one of those policies that will make a difference, and I urge you to become an original co-sponsor,” DeLauro wrote in the Oct. 5 letter.
Critics of the bill say it exemplifies the type of cradle-to-grave, nanny-state legislation supported by Democrat lawmakers that the government can’t afford.
“This is a literal push for the nanny state,” said Robert Gordon, senior adviser for strategic outreach at The Heritage Foundation. “With no regard for the Constitution and regardless of our deficit and debt, there’s no issue too local or too small for liberals to find a role for the federal government.”
Diapers are expensive, costing on average $4 a day and more than $100 a month. However, many charities deal specifically with diapers, through services such as diaper banks, and according to a study conducted last year by Huggies, half of the mothers interviewed would consider getting free diapers from such a charity.
“Many mothers already give diapers to other mothers or organizations when they are no longer needed,” the study said. “Most mothers said they would give their unused diapers to a diaper bank to distribute to those in need. Amazingly, many mothers said they would help start a diaper bank in their community.”
While DeLauro’s legislation would aid families who have toddlers enrolled in day care, it does not include free diapers for stay-at-home or unemployed moms who don’t use day care.
Penny Young Nance, president and chief executive officer for Concerned Women for America, said the legislation would help a small group of people, while placing a greater tax burden on a larger group of parents.
“Stay-at-home moms where the dad is making the single income make great sacrifices,” Nance said. “It doesn’t work to take more from her husband’s paycheck to give away diapers. And what about families where the grandmother, sister or dad stays home while the spouse works? We believe this is shortsighted.”
“I understand the concern behind the legislation. I just don’t think in the long run it’s really helpful. And with all of the crazy spending by government, we can’t afford to do this. I would much prefer they lower taxes, so that Americans can afford to pay for their own diapers,” Nance said.
Nance said that diaper banks and other charities are the most effective ways in the current economic climate to help poor families.
“In this time of economic crisis,” Nance said, “it is a great time for churches to show compassion and do what churches are supposed to do.”