What is the 'diaper gap' – and could these MN lawmakers help close it?


The achievement gap and income gap have been discussed in Congress for the past decade, but a new gap issue in is gaining traction in Washington D.C. – the diaper gap.

The basic concept of the diaper gap? Every family with infants needs diapers. But for poorer families, that essential cost eats up a significant amount of their overall budget when compared to more financially secure families.

So Sen. Al Franken introduced a bill to help families afford the cost of diapers, his office said Friday. It's co-sponsored by Bob Casey, a Pennsylvannia Democrat, and would provide support to states and local governments. Franken, also a Democrat, says about one-third of the country has trouble affording diapers.

“No family in our country should go to the store and be forced to choose between buying diapers or groceries,” the second-term senator said in the release.

His proposal is endorsed by more than 20 baby- and family-friendly organizations, including The American Academy of Pediatrics, Children’s Defense Fund and Child Care Aware of Minnesota.

Ellison is also on board

Rep. Keith Ellison, who serves Minnesota's 5th Congressional District, introduced a similar bill late last year in the U.S. House.

It would allow states to provide diapers or a diaper subsidy for low-income and working families, the Democrat has said.

“With millions of families struggling to provide diapers for their children, it’s time we recognize that families are being forced to make tough decisions that affect their child’s health," he said.

The White House is also looking at it

President Barack Obama weighed in on the issue in March, saying his administration would be pursuing ways to make diapers more affordable for low-income families.

The lowest 20 percent of families with infants pay 14 percent of their income for diapers alone – an average of $936 per child per year, Obama said in a blog post titled "The Diaper Divide," which also noted that diapers are not optional.

Samantha Bee recently had a segment in her TBS show "Full Frontal with Samantha Bee" were she criticized opponents to the diaper legislation (Note: the video does contain swearing).


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