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Connecticutians embrace duty of Diaper Day; some call it a rash decision

Happy Diaper Need Awareness Day! At least to all you Connecticutians.

In an effort to raise awareness about the plight of low-income families to supply their children with diapers, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy declared Thursday to be the first “Diaper Need Awareness Day” in the state.

According to the Governor’s Declaration, 26 percent of Connecticut children are part of low income families and “the average infant or toddler requires an average of 50 diaper changes per week over three year.”

In designating October 27 Diaper Day, Malloy also encouraged his constituents to “donate generously to diaper banks, diaper drives, and those organizations that distribute diapers to families in need to help alleviate diaper need in Connecticut.”

The Hartford Courant reported that in recognition of the day, diaper activists will participate in a panel discussion on diapers, followed by a fundraiser in New Haven.

“Diaper Need Awareness Day” comes on the heels of Connecticut Democratic Rep. Rosa DeLauro’s introduction of the “Diaper Investment and Aid to Promote Economic Recovery Act (DIAPER) Act,” which would provide diapers and supplies to low income families via child care providers by amending Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 1990.

“The DIAPER Act simply allows funds already allocated to the Child Care and Development Block Grant program to be used to provide diapers to child care centers for families in need. It does not cost anything,” DeLauro told TheDC, explaining that the legislation doesn’t require additional spending.

“It will relieve financial pressure to those hardest hit in these tough economic times,” she added. “The need is clear: if you cannot afford an adequate supply of diapers, which can average $1,200 a year, your child is at risk for infection and you cannot send them to daycare. If you cannot send your child to daycare, you cannot work or attend school.”

According to DeLauro, it costs families about $4 a day, or $100 a month, to keep a child in diapers.

Conservative groups, including Concerned Women for America, have been critical of the proposal, explaining that spending money on diapers is foolish with a large deficit.

“This is not to say that providing diapers for the poor is not a worthy goal. In this time of economic crisis,” CWA President and CEO Penny Nance told TheDC in an emailed statement, “it is a great time for churches and individual[s] to show compassion by stepping up to meet the needs of those struggling the most.”

DeLauro explained, however, that her proposal wouldn’t require additional funding.

“The DIAPER Act will help by simply amending existing legislation and allow child care providers to use funds they already have to provide diapers, enabling children to attend daycare and parents to work,” she explained. “It does so at no additional cost to anyone, and can make a difference for these families, parents, and children in need.”

Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh has also been critical of DeLauro’s legislation and Malloy’s day devoted to diapers. On his Wednesday show Limbaugh joked about what the New Haven panel discussion would entail.

“Can you imagine this panel discussion? Will this be on C-SPAN? Who will the experts be?” he wondered. “Can you imagine watching a panel discussion on the health risks for babies whose diapers are not changed frequently enough?”

“How long is it gonna be before a bunch of geezers in nursing homes are gonna be demanding free diapers?” Limbaugh added.

Activists are encouraged, however, that the governor has taken up the mantle of their fight.

“We are thrilled that the Governor has recognized the importance of keeping babies in clean diapers and are looking forward to celebrating this occasion together through our annual Rock Your Baby celebration,” acting executive director of the Diaper Bank Janet Stolfi Alfano said in a statement.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, Early Head Start Programs also provide families eligible for the program with diapers and formula.

DeLauro will not be able to attend the panel discussion or fundraiser in New Haven as she has to be in D.C. to vote.

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