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Advocates: Efforts to make diapers more accessible haven’t gone far enough

By Abigail Ruhman, IPB News | Published on in Economy, Family Issues, Health
For parents that rely on child care, not having enough diapers means potentially staying home from work since daycares often require parents to provide diapers. (FILE PHOTO: Jeanie Lindsay/IPB News)

Families in Indiana are struggling to afford diapers. Advocates say efforts to make diapers more affordable and accessible haven’t gone far enough.

Jessica Marchbank is the state programs director at All-Options. Her organization provides diapers to those who need the support. She said there is a stigma that prevents many people from talking about the issue of diaper affordability and access.

“I’ve heard people say things like, ‘Well, why did they have children if they couldn’t afford diapers?’ Which is stunningly obtuse and just lacking in any sort of empathy,” Marchbank said.

One in two families in Indiana struggle to provide clean diapers to their child, according to the Indiana Diaper Bank.

Last year, Indiana had one of the highest tax rates on diapers in the country before lawmakers passed a sales tax exemption that pauses taxes on diapers. This year, the state gave a portion of its Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funding to the Indiana Diaper Bank so it could provide more families with diapers.

Marchbank said those changes haven’t done enough for families struggling to pay for diapers.

“They wouldn’t have been enough for families 10 years ago, let alone today when families are struggling so much just to afford child care,” Marchbank said.

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For parents that rely on child care, not having enough diapers means potentially staying home from work since day cares often require parents to provide diapers. Marchbank said this leads parents to ask difficult questions.

“Am I supposed to hold back diapers here at home and potentially put my child in an unsafe situation or an unsanitary situation?” Marchbank said. “Or am I supposed to miss work? Which then further sets me back, thus really perpetuating the cycle of poverty.”

Marchbank said some families have to choose between diapers, groceries, and bills.

She also said a lack of steady access to clean diapers can put a child’s health at risk.

Abigail is our health reporter. Contact them at aruhman@wboi.org.