Philadelphia to pay pregnant women $1,000 a month

The program will offer monthly cash payments to pregnant women living in certain Philadelphia communities for 18 months

Meredith Clark
New York
Friday 24 March 2023 02:52 GMT
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The city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania has announced a new program to distribute $1,000 a month to pregnant women in an effort to lower infant mortality rates.

The Philadelphia Department of Public Health announced in a press release on Monday 20 March that the pilot program – called the Philly Joy Bank – aims to combat racial disparities in infant mortality by providing a monthly guaranteed income to 250 pregnant women who live in certain Philadelphia communities.

To be eligible for the monthly guaranteed income, residents must be pregnant, have a household income of less than $100,000 per year, and live in one of the three Philly neighborhoods with the highest rates of very low birth weight: Cobbs Creek, Strawberry Mansion, and Nicetown-Tioga.

The $1,000 cash payment comes with “no-strings-attached” and will be offered to participants for a total of 18 months, including postpartum, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. In addition, program participants will also be offered voluntary support such as benefits and financial counseling, home visiting, lactation support, and doulas.

“Infant mortality in Philadelphia is a solvable crisis,” said health commissioner Dr Cheryl Bettigole in a statement on Monday. “We know that being able to better support pregnant people and new parents helps keep babies alive. As the poorest big city in the country, this is not always easy, especially in areas of the city that are being crushed by generational poverty and systemic racism.”

According to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), Black infants in the United States were three times more likely to die before their first birthday than white infants between 2017 and 2020. Out of the top 10 most populated cities in the United States, Philadelphia alone has the highest rate of infant mortality in the first year of life, city officials said.

The Philly Joy Bank is a partnership between Philadelphia’s health department and the Philadelphia Community Action Network (CAN), a collective of researchers and doctors working to reduce racial disparities in infant mortality. The city’s public health department hopes to reach its fundraising goal of $6 million in order to launch the program in early 2024, having already received more than $3 million in donations from the William Penn Foundation and Spring Point Partners.

Similar monthly income programs for pregnant women have been launched in other populated cities throughout the US. The Abundant Birth Project was the first program in the US to extend cash payments to Black residents in San Francisco, California in 2021. Since then, it has expanded to four counties in California after receiving $6.5 million in city and state funding.

Last April, the Bridge Project in New York City began providing mothers between $500 to $1,000 per month for over the next three years.

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