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'First-of-its-kind' federal pilot program will provide diapers to Washington families in need

Washington is one of five states, along with tribal members, receiving funding through the pilot program.

SEATTLE — A new federal pilot program aims to help provide diapers to thousands of families in need. 

WA Senator Patty Murray's Office says the program will distribute $800,000 to the Washington State Community Action Partnership and $1.2 million to the South Puget Intertribal Planning Agency. Each will coordinate the allocation of diapers and diapering supplies to a number of community organizations.

One of those organizations is Westside Baby, a diaper bank in Seattle that also helps with other needs, such as clothing and car seats.

"This investment is just going to allow us to serve more children and more babies, and it's also testimony to the fact that diaper need exists in our community and it's not something that we can just not talk about," Westside Baby Director of Development and Communications Carina Schubert said.

Schubert says Westside Baby serves about 30,000 children every year in King County, but that the number of families who struggle to meet basic needs has significantly outpaced the growth of available resources.

"Based on the most recently available census data, childhood poverty rates are increasing and are disproportionately in south King County cities, in comparison to county-wide data," Schubert said.

Westside Baby says there are 13,000 children under the age of five in King County who live below the federal poverty level.

"It would take about 48 million diapers per year just to meet the need for children living in the deepest poverty, not to mention the thousands upon thousands more families who can’t make a living wage," Schubert said. 

Westside Baby says it is still waiting to learn how much of the allocation it will receive, but that any amount helps and it hopes programs like this continue and expand.

"This is the first of its kind federal investment in diaper banks," Schubert said. "A larger investment in public funding is going to allow us to meet more of the need."

The program will be administered through the Department of Health and Human Services, included in last year's government funding bill.

“Every single day, I work hard to lift stress off parents’ shoulders—because no parent should be worried about getting diapers for their child," Senator Patty Murray wrote in a statement. "But right now, as any parent will tell you, diapers can be a huge cost—and one in three families with a child who needs diapers, struggles to afford them."

The Diaper Distribution Pilot Program for Families in Need will provide funding to states and community organizations to help provide diapers to families with low incomes.

"Moms, parents, and babies deserve better, that’s why I fought for this critical program to support diaper banks and get diapers to families that need them," Senator Murray said. "I’m proud to see that two of the pilot programs will launch in Washington state, and will provide diapers to families from Pasco to Seattle, including to Tribal communities in the south Puget Sound."

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