Dolan’s family is among tens of thousands of people in Washington who participate in TANF, which distributes money that recipients can spend on living expenses, including the cost of clothing, transportation, food and lodging. A family of three with no income can get $654 a month in TANF grants, according to the Washington State Department of Health and Social Services. Washington families with $6,000 or less in resources are eligible for the program and may be required to participate in WorkFirst, which helps people find jobs.
Nearly 20% of King County children lived in families that struggled to afford formula or diapers “at least some of the time since the child was born,” according to 2019 data. from the Best Starts for Kids Health survey. The National Diaper Bank Network estimates that providing diapers for a baby can cost between $70 and $80 per month. The COVID-19 era has offered little respite: In 2021, diaper manufacturers have increased the cost of baby products.
Most senators passed the bill, though it was pushed back by State Sen. Phil Fortunato, R-Auburn, who wondered what happened to families in need but not receiving no TANF benefits. State Sen. T’wina Nobles, D-Fircrest, who sponsored the bill, is confident it will benefit Washingtonians struggling to afford diapers.
“I think it’s a real solution to help people who we know need it the most,” Nobles said.
Parents may not be able to access child care programs that require an adequate supply of diapers, and families may change their children less often to conserve diapers, according to a press release from Nobles’ office.