Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) announced a new pilot program to provide direct cash assistance to new and expectant mothers in sections 5, 7 and 8.
The $ 1.5 million Strong Families, Strong Future DC program aims to provide $ 900 a month to 132 new and expectant mothers in a full year to ease the burden of motherhood in low-income areas of the district, according to Bowser’s press release on January 13th.
Raising a small child in the district is more expensive than in any other state, and it costs over $ 28,000 annually to provide necessities such as food, housing, clothing, diapers, and medical care.
The program is another step in the district’s plan to provide support to low-income mothers, according to Bowser.
“This program is about supporting new and expectant mothers with cash so they can have the autonomy and flexibility to make the best choices for them and their baby,” Bowser wrote in the press release. “Strong Families, the Strong Future DC pilot builds on the work we have done to address differences in maternal health outcomes, make high-quality childcare more affordable and accessible, and ensure that women are at the heart of our equitable economic recovery strategy.”
COVID-19 has disproportionately affected mothers who have been burdened with increased childcare responsibilities, according to the Pew Research Center. The challenges were increased for working mothers, with 39% reporting increased difficulties in balancing work and family responsibilities.
The pilot program is a collaboration between the mayor’s office, the deputy mayor’s office for planning and economic development and the local non-profit organization for child development, Martha’s Table.
During the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Martha’s Table spent $ 1.2 million to provide $ 9,000 in direct cash assistance to 137 DC families over a four-month period, according to Whitney Faison, assistant communications director for Martha’s Table.
“Direct cash assistance is a permanent aspect of Martha’s Tables’ portfolio,” Faison wrote in an email to The Hoya. “We know this program works. This is our third cash assistance program, and the evidence is there.”
Cash benefits have a positive impact on the welfare of lower-income households and help pay for daily needs, according to Faison.
“It was not about putting money in people’s hands, it was about expanding the dignity and respect they deserve in a time when it was most needed,” Faison wrote.
Similar pilot programs around the United States have shown progress in the communities they are designed to serve. For example, the Magnolia Mother’s Trust in Jackson, Miss., Has provided $ 1,000 cash on a monthly basis to low-income black mothers since fall 2018 and has now become the nation’s longest-running basic income program.
Direct cash assistance programs have been successful because they let new mothers use the financial support they deem appropriate, according to Faison.
Unlimited cash assistance is routinely used to meet financial needs that each family deems appropriate, including payment of consumption bills, payment of rent, payment for transportation to and from jobs and doctor visits, grocery shopping, and financing of child care needs, according to Faison.
“For families in Divisions 5, 7 and 8, this level of unconditional support is critical,” Faison wrote. “The first year of a child’s life offers a significant financial burden. This direct cash benefit will help families build a solid financial foundation that paves the way for the success of lasting children and families. “