Advocates for victims of domestic violence came out in force to testify at a City Council hearing on a bill that would provide free diapers to children of families in shelters and city-run facilities.
The legislation, introduced by Councilmember Mark Treyger, would require the Department of Citywide Administrative Services to provide free diapers at domestic violence shelters, childcare centers and other service providers.
The bill was the subject of a joint hearing by the council’s Committees on Women and Government Operations on June 19.
Olga Rodriguez-Vidal, associate vice president for shelter programs at Safe Horizon, called diapers “a basic necessity,” and said they should be readily available to families in need. “The families in our domestic violence shelters want the best for their children, but have very limited financial resources,” she said.
The cost of diapers is often prohibitive to parents facing a dire financial situation, according to Treyger, who chairs the council’s Committee on Education. “No parent should ever have to choose between the cost of diapers and paying their rent or putting food on their family’s table,” he said.
The cost of diapers is a significant economic burden for many of New York’s poorest families, according to Treyger, who cited a study by the National Diaper Network, which found that a family will go through 3,000 diapers, at a cost $500, during the first year of an infant’s life.
The lack of diapers also holds parents back in the job market, Treyger said. Many childcare centers mandate that children come with their own diapers. Parents who can’t afford diapers are unable to work or attend school, he said.
There are currently no government programs providing diapers for infants. Parents cannot use Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) cards or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) cards to buy diapers.