POLL: A welfare program for diapers?

SAN DIEGO - A proposed state bill written by a local legislator could make the nation's first welfare program for diapers.

The idea is to help low-income parents get diapers for their children, and if passed, it would cost California $100 million each year.

Collin Hunt lives with his girlfriend Stephanie and her two young children. Both recently lost their jobs, and at one point, they were faced with an impossible dilemma.

"It's frustrating. It was a horrible feeling because of the decision to feed them or buy diapers," said Hunt.

Ultimately, Hunt decided to sacrifice his meals so the children wouldn't go without eating.

According to a 2013 Yale study, 30 percent of low-income women struggle to pay for disposable diapers and are often forced to reuse them.

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez calls that a reality that needs to be addressed.

"There needs to be some sort of supplement for low-income women who are struggling to get back into the work force and trying to educate themselves, so they can become self-sufficient and diaper their children," said Gonzalez.

Gonzalez said because programs like food stamps don't allow the money to be spent on diapers, mother are put in a bind.

Her idea is an $80 diaper stipend to each family that qualifies for CalWORKs and has a child under 2 years old.

The bill passed the state Assembly 55-23, and it now moves onto the state Senate.

Anita Calhoun, a retired principal who worked with low-income children, said, "I feel that money could be put to better use, for instance, more clinics for inner city areas."

Some Republicans have called the idea an expansion of welfare, but Gonzalez said the goal is just the opposite.

"We know the No. 1 barrier to employment for single mothers is child care … Quite frankly, if you don't have an adequate supply of diapers and can't take your child to child care, there's no way you can have a job," said Gonzalez.

Some critics say there's no guarantee the money would be spent on diapers.

Gonzalez said the stipend is sorely needed and she's confident the families would use it for diapers.

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