Tennessee to become first US state to provide families with diapers

Tennessee will become the first state to give parents free diapers to families as part of its Medicaid program.

The initiative, known as the TennCare III Amendment, has received federal approval and is expected to become available later this summer, the Division of TennCare announced Tuesday.

Parents will have access to up to 100 diapers per month at no cost until the child turns 2 years old. Infants typically use hundreds of diapers a month. The children need to be covered under TennCare or CoverKids to access the benefit.

Tennessee state lawmakers granted $30m in funding for the program during last year’s legislative session. The initiative was originally introduced by Republican Governor Bill Lee as a “pro-life” and “pro-family” policy to allocate part of $330m in savings from the state’s Medicaid block grant funding structure.

Tennessee to become first state to provide free diapers to qualifying families (Mohammed Abed/AFP via Getty Images)

In a statement to the Tennessean, Mr Lee said, “Strong families are central to strong communities, and Tennessee is leading the nation in prioritizing resources for families in need. We are the first state in the nation to cover the cost of diapers for mothers in the first two years of a child’s life and we hope this is a model for others.”

TennCare said it is now focused on finalizing the key details of the benefit and will provide further information on how to obtain diapers when they become available in August.

According to the Nashville Diaper Connection, a non-profit that supplies diapers to needy families in the city, babies born into poverty could spend a day or more in one diaper. Sitting in the same diaper can cause infections such as a rash, fever, blisters and boils.

Currently no federal program offers diaper assistance, even though parents should estimate to spend close to $1,000 on the product annually. Most daycare centers will turn away parents if they can’t supply a day’s worth of diapers, perpetuating a cycle of financial insecurity.

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