WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) on Friday introduced legislation to assist families who are struggling to afford diapers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 Diaper Assistance Act would provide $200 million in additional funds through the Social Services Block Grant program for diaper assistance. Prior to the pandemic, nonprofit diaper bank distribution only met 5 to 6 percent of diaper need. Since the start of COVID–19, many diaper banks around the country have experienced triple the increase in demand for diapers due to the pandemic and economic shutdown. Nonprofits alone cannot fully address this public health crisis that impacts one in three families in the United States. Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13) will introduce companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“We often don’t think about the hidden costs of parenting. Even before the pandemic, diapers were expensive and families often struggle to buy this basic necessity for their kids; imagine how much worse that is now,” said Murphy. “The cost of diapers can have adverse health consequences for infants and small children. I’m proud to join my colleague Senator Ernst in introducing this much needed legislation to help nonprofit diaper banks provide for parents in need.”

“Having access to clean diapers is a basic need for families that can’t be overlooked during this pandemic. Amidst COVID-19, diaper banks in Iowa and across the country have faced serious challenges, which is why this bipartisan measure with Senator Chris Murphy is so important. Iowa moms and dads shouldn’t have to worry about having access to clean diapers; this bipartisan bill will go a long way in helping address those challenges,” said Ernst.

“Diapers are essential for keeping children healthy, but are inaccessible for nearly one-third of parents in the U.S. who are unable to afford the cost.” said Lee. “Since the start of this pandemic, the need for diaper assistance has only grown as millions have fallen into poverty—it’s unacceptable. It is past time our government help ensure that everyday parents have the resources they need to support the health and wellbeing of their families. I am eager to continue working alongside Senator Murphy and lead this effort in the House.” 

"Record levels of unemployment and deep cuts to working hours have left millions of families in a deep economic recession, unable to secure basic necessities such as diapers. Unfortunately, even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, one in three families did not have the diapers they needed to keep their child clean, dry, and healthy, and now that number is larger than ever. Diaper banks across the country have stretched limited resources to address skyrocketing need for diapers in their communities. This critically needed legislation will provide long-overdue resources to ensure that millions of families across the country will have access to the diapers they need to keep their children healthy and thriving,” said Joanne Samuel Goldblum, CEO of the National Diaper Bank Network.

Text of the legislation is available here.