DC launches direct cash assistance program to support new and expectant parents

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser recently announced a $1.5 million direct cash assistance pilot program to support low-income new and expectant parents in Wards 5, 7, and 8 by improving maternal health. and advancing economic mobility.

The program is funded by the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED). Entitled Strong Families, Strong Futures, the program coordinated by Martha’s tablea DC-based nonprofit social service organization, is scheduled to begin in February 2022. The program targets expectant parents or those raising a child three months old or younger whose annual household incomes fall below 250% of the threshold federal poverty reduction – $32,200 for one person, or $43,550 for two.

The program also aims to alleviate some of the economic pressures that parents continue to face during the pandemic. In addition to an unconditional monthly cash transfer of $900, parents will have access to non-cash resources such as weekly access to groceries and healthy clothing, and the ability to enroll their child in nationally accredited preschool programs, such as The Maycroft, run by La Table de Marthe.

Whitney Faison, assistant director of communications at Martha’s Table, explained the benefits of unrestricted cash assistance programs in an email to Voice. “Unlimited Cash the aid has proven time and time again that it is used to meet the financial needs of each family,Faison wrote. “The proof is there that people know best how to provide for their families.”

This program comes at a time when COVID-19 has disproportionately affected women of color due to systemic issues including occupational segregation and lack of access to paid leave. Between January 2020 and January 2021, 11% of Asian mothers who worked with children 12 or younger and 10% of black mothers left the labor market. Both rates are higher than the same statistic for white mothers. For this reason, the program targets parents of Wards 5, 7 and 8which have the highest proportion of black residents in the district, the lowest average household incomes, and the lowest access to prenatal care.

In a January 13 press conference Announcing the program, Bowser acknowledged the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on women and families. “We know that women, especially mothers, have been disproportionately affected by this pandemic,” Bowser said. “These payments will give moms the autonomy and flexibility they need.”

With an annual cost of $28,785, DC was ranked the most expensive place in the United States to raise a child by a loan tree to study. Job disruptions over the past two years have created greater income instability for families, and direct cash assistance programs have proven effective in helping families meet their most immediate needs.

Martha’s Table spearheads direct cash assistance initiatives in the city. Just days after the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in DC, Martha’s Table announced a cash assistance program that would provide $9,000 per household to 137 families over a four-month period. The success of the program led to the launch of the THRIVE east of the river partnership, one of the largest cash assistance pilot projects in the country, supporting more than 500 families living in Ward 8 between July 2020 and June 2021.

This program is part of a larger national movement to invest more in parents of children in the early stages of development. Similar direct cash assistance programs for low-income families were launched in Mississippi and Atlanta during the last years. The Strong Families, Strong Futures DC pilot project will be evaluated by DMPED and Martha’s Table to measure impacts on the health and well-being of participating families. Martha’s Table will continue to actively promote cash assistance initiatives and hopes to further expand these family assistance programs.

“Martha’s Table remains committed to meeting the needs of the communities we support and will continue to invest in cash transfer programs for our neighbors as part of our five-year community-led vision,” Faison wrote. “We know that the first months of a child’s life are critical and can be extremely stressful for young mothers. We have the resources and team ready to support program participants and ensure they have everything they need to thrive.

Back To Top