(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser and the Office of the Deputy Mayor of Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) announced a new $1.5 million direct cash transfer pilot program, Strong Families, Strong Future DC, to support maternal health and advance economic mobility. The nonprofit organization Martha’s Table will implement the program, which will provide $900 per month for one year to 132 new and expectant mothers in Wards 5, 7, and 8.
“Having a newborn is a big life change, and we also know how critical those first months and years are to a baby’s life. This program is about supporting new and expectant moms with cash so that they can have the autonomy and flexibility to make the best choices for them and their baby,” said Mayor Bowser. “The Strong Families, Strong Future DC pilot builds on the work we’ve done to address disparities in maternal health outcomes, make high-quality child care more affordable and accessible, and ensure women are at the heart of our equitable economic recovery strategy.”
September 2021 report from LendingTree found that the average cost of raising a newborn child is nearly $29,000, including housing, food, clothing, transportation, insurance premiums, and infant daycare. Expectant mothers can expect to spend at least $300 per month on diapers, wipes, infant formula, and baby supplies alone. Their financial challenges can often severely impact their stress levels and health outcomes.
Strong Families, Strong Future DC aims to improve maternal and child health outcomes in disproportionately affected areas in DC. Martha’s Table intends to utilize qualitative and quantitative methods to track the pilot and evaluate how direct cash assistance impacts the participating mothers and their children’s physical, mental, and health outcomes.
“Welcoming a newborn is a cause for celebration. This direct cash assistance will mean that families can focus on bonding with their young child without being bogged down by the financial stress that often accompanies the first year of life,” said Kim R. Ford, President & CEO of Martha’s Table. “Martha's Table is proud to partner with DMPED to invest in strong children and strong families in DC.”
Similar direct cash transfer programs are in progress or under consideration in several cities across the country. For example, findings from recent pilots, such as the Magnolia Mother’s Trust in Jackson, Mississippi, have demonstrated the positive effects and economic improvements among participants. Additional cash has allowed women to achieve further financial stability, financial security, food security, and health insurance coverage.
“Women and mothers have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and even before that,” said Deputy Mayor John Falcicchio. “New mothers face challenges and high financial responsibilities. That is why we want to provide this economic assistance that can support them to overcome these obstacles.”
Martha’s Table’s commitment to advancing maternal health and their experience establishing and managing large-scale direct cash transfer programs makes them uniquely qualified to lead this program. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Martha’s Table led the THRIVE East of the River partnership, one of the largest cash assistance programs in the nation. The partnership, comprised of four nonprofit organizations based in Ward 8, supported 500 families living at or near the poverty line with $5,500 each over a five-month period.
Martha’s Table is a non-profit organization that has emphasized expanding access to community resources and emergency assistance in Washington, DC for more than four decades. Their effort to target maternal health outcomes is rooted in the idea that investing in families with young children will allow them to better meet development outcomes at an early age.
The Strong Families, Strong Future DC program will launch in February 2022. Please visit marthastable.org for additional program updates.