Health /

Philadelphia to Pay Certain Pregnant Women $1K per month

City officials say the payments will combat the impact of generational poverty and systemic racism

Pregnant women in certain Philadelphia neighborhoods are eligible for new monthly cash payments through a program aimed at reducing infant mortality.

The Philly Joy Bank will give 250 pregnant women in Cobbs Creeks, Strawberry Mansion and Nicetown-Tioga $1,000 per month via a pilot program. 

“Research has shown that supporting pregnant people with cash payments can improve birth outcomes that are associated with infant mortality, including low birth weight and prematurity,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole, per CBS News

According to a March 20 press release from the Department of Public Health, “Philadelphia has the highest rate of infant mortality in the first year of life” of any city in the United States. The Department stressed that black infants are four times more likely to die during their first year of life that white infants.

“The Health Department believes that giving cash during and immediately after pregnancy is a promising approach to addressing these racial disparities and improving birth outcomes. In addition to the guaranteed income, program participants will also be offered voluntary support such as benefits and financial counseling, home visiting, lactation support, and doulas,” per the department’s statement.

The neighborhoods have the highest rates of low birth weight. To qualify for the program, a woman must reside in one of the three areas, be pregnant, and make less than $100,000 annually.

Those accepted into the program will receive payments for 18 months, including for the entire year after their child’s birth. The program will be overseen by the Department of Health and the Philadelphia Community Action Network. 

The $3 million program is funded through partnerships with the William Penn Foundation and Spring Point Partners. City officials hope to ultimately raise $6 million and launch the program at the start of 2024.

“Infant mortality in Philadelphia is a solvable crisis,” said Bettigole. “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.”

Similar monthly payment programs have been established in other parts of the country. New York City launched the Bridge Project in July of 2021, offering pregnant women in certain neighborhoods monthly payments of $500 to $1,000 for three years.

The first group of 100 mothers began receiving payments starting last July. About half of those participants are Black and half are Latinx,” reported CNBC. “One in 5 of them are undocumented. They reside in the Central Harlem, Inwood and Washington Heights neighborhoods of Manhattan.”

The city expanded the program to include 500 more pregnant women and incorporate East Harlem, as well as the Central and South Bronx.

Monthly payment programs for pregnant black women are also offered in four counties in California. Initially launched in San Francisco, the program offers $1,000 per month to pregnant women in Alameda, Contra Costa, Los Angeles and Riverside counties. The program has received $6.5 million in funding.

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