(CNSNews.com) - Front and center on the White House website is a message urging Americans to "take action" on the nation's great "diaper divide."
"Nearly 1 in 3 families struggle to afford diapers for their babies," says the message posted on March 10 by Cecilia Muñoz, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council.
"There is also no federal assistance for purchasing diapers, unlike other essentials like food or health insurance," she noted.
Muñoz says President Obama's Fiscal Year 2017 budget includes $10 million in taxpayer funds "to test effective ways to get diapers to families in need and document the health improvements that result."
But unless Congress passes that budget, "we don’t have a program to help struggling families buy diapers for their children. So, we’re getting creative and using every tool we have to help solve this problem."
(Congress will not even consider Obama's proposed budget, let alone pass it.)
Muñoz noted that many parents order diapers in bulk, for a lower cost, over the Internet. "But the benefits of this new economy aren’t available to all Americans," she adds.
"This can lead to serious health problems for babies and parents. Young children can end up hospitalized with problems like urinary tract or staph infections. Imagine the stress of not being able to afford the basics that your baby needs – not a small matter for struggling parents and caregivers.
"When families can’t afford a healthy number of diapers for their babies, they’re faced with a choice between buying diapers and paying for food, rent, or utilities like heat. That’s a choice that no family should have to make. In the worst case, over time these kinds of stressors can contribute to the incidence of abuse and neglect of young children."
According to Munoz, the "diaper disparity" is made worse by the fact that the lowest-income families lack transportation to big box stores -- and they may not have the credit or capital or Internet access needed to buy diapers in bulk at cheaper prices. They may even lack the "ability to receive packages" at the type of address required for delivery.
The White House is urging Americans to "spread the word" (#DiaperGap) on social media; find a diaper bank near you; or sign up to become a diaper distributor. And it is urging online retailers, diaper manufacturers and non-profits to expand access to diapers for families in need.
"By calling these companies and non-profits to the table, we are breaking down the barriers to access and harnessing the tools of the new economy so that they can benefit all families," Muñoz wrote.
"When you have a baby, diapers are a necessity. They are not optional. Addressing the high cost of diapers for low-income families can help to take one more burden off those families as they strive to reach the middle class, and give the next generation the great start in life that all kids deserve."