Cost of diapers takes a toll on some North Dakota families; End Diaper Need Act could be the solution

Local News

Starting a family is a beautiful thing, but along with that decision comes a cost. One cost that often isn’t considered is the price of diapers.

From their very first day of life, babies need diapers to keep them dry, clean and healthy — but they don’t come cheap.

Jackalyn Hawker is a stay-at-home mom of two; her kids are 5 years and 6 months old.

She said her diapering experience has improved but has not been easy.

“It was a lot harder when my son was smaller, we were not as financially sound as we are right now.
Everything else costs a lot more and it made it really hard and we ended up having to put the diaper down as a bill,” said Hawker.

Her family spends at least $100 a week on diapers and diapering needs. That’s a cost she didn’t anticipate when she decided on starting a family.

Hawker is one of many women in America who struggle with diapering.

Nationally, two-parent households spend about 12 percent of their income on child needs, while single-parent households use 42 percent of their income on childcare.

To help parents meet their diaper needs, Project BEE in Minot distributes diapers to families in need.

“We know that the pandemic has kind of exasperated situations for American families. One in three families in America experience diaper needs it might be just because of high-cost childcare, just the high cost of having children,” Executive Director of Project BEE, Liz Larsen said.

Every year, the diaper bank distributes more than 57,000 diapers and at least 95 infants and toddlers benefit from this every month.

In Minot, about 250 families have received help with their diaper needs since last year. Larsen says the number goes up every week.

Many of these parents and grandparents of young kids do not have the money to buy diapers and the high sales tax in North Dakota does not help.

“In some of these more remote counties in North Dakota, the sales tax is actually higher. I live in Minot, the sales taxes I think is 7.5, still, an impact, where my sister lives the sale tax is 8.5,” Larsen recalled.

She added in smaller towns where there is just the “one store to buy diapers from,” taxes tend to be higher.

Larson reiterated that it is “a struggle for families” and while “many states have eliminated the sales tax, North Dakota is not one of them.”

Children from low-income families are most likely to experience poor foundational growth due to diaper needs according to the national diaper bank.

That’s why some U.S. lawmakers, including Sen. Kevin Cramer, are pushing the End Diaper Need Act in Washington.

The bill is in its introductory stage but for moms like Hawker, they can’t wait — the need is now.

She said families shouldn’t have to choose between food and diapering needs.

“You shouldn’t have to restrict yourself from your own availability of food in order to just change a diaper. It will probably be a lot easier if people were able to actually buy diapers with food stamps or with WIC,” Hawker said.

On average North Dakotan families will spend at least $80 every month on diapers and diapering supplies.

For low-income and some middle-income families that could be an uphill task.

If the End Diaper Need Act is passed, programs like the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
or even Medicaid will receive more funding specifically for diaper distribution programs.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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