Rockefeller Institute Publishes Research From Winners of Future Leaders in Policy Competition

Competition showcased policy research from SUNY undergraduate and graduate students

First published piece in series examines prevalence and impact of diaper need on low-income families

Albany, NY — The Rockefeller Institute of Government published the first in a series of analyses from the winners of its 2021 Future Leaders in Policy Competition.

The competition, which was held in April, showcased the best of SUNY undergraduate and graduate research related to public policy while offering professional skills development and networking opportunities with established subject matter experts and leaders. The winners were given an opportunity to work with Rockefeller Institute experts to further develop their research and received $500 upon publication of their research with the Institute.

“As SUNY’s premier public policy think tank, the Rockefeller Institute has a unique opportunity to connect students to experts in their field and encourage them to consider the policy implications of their research,” said Laura Schultz, executive director of research at the Institute. “I want to thank our superb team of researchers for supporting the development of participants’ research at every stage of this competition. We are thrilled to see the fruition of this process and are excited to build on this success in next year’s competition.”

The analysis published today entitled, “The Impact and Prevalence of Diaper Need,” and authored by Kaley Donaldson of Buffalo State University, represents the first of three analyses to come from the winners of the competition. The other winners are Stephanie Taboada and Gabby Mayers of Stony Brook University.

Diaper need is when caregivers cannot afford an adequate supply of disposable diapers to keep their children comfortable and dry, Donaldson explains in the analysis. In an original survey of parents designed and administered by Donaldson she found that, while families across a relatively wide range of income brackets report experiencing some amount of diaper need, lower-income families often have transportation barriers that prevent them from accessing stores that sell diapers in bulk and their weekly budget often precludes them from purchasing diapers in large quantities. As a result of these barriers, many of these families end up paying more for diapers.

The analysis goes on to identify potential policy changes at the local, state, and federal level to support those impacted by diaper need, including:

  • allowing diapers to be purchased with SNAP or WIC funds (federal);
  • creating a program that allows families who have worked with their local Department of Social Services to secure childcare subsidies to be eligible to receive an additional diaper stipend (state); and
  • eliminating a county-level sales tax on diapers (local).

Read the full analysis here.

The winning presentations can be found here (video).