The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation intends to grant up to $15 million over three years to Michigan State University to support the launch of Rx Kids, an innovative initiative to provide $7,500 in direct cash payments to mothers in Flint during pregnancy and throughout the first year of a child’s life.
The programme is led by Dr Mona Hanna-Attisha at the MSU College of Human Medicine. Through Rx Kids, families will be ‘prescribed’ a total of $7,500 in cash. This will include a one-time $1,500 payment to expectant mothers in mid-pregnancy, followed by $500 per month for the first year of a child’s life. All pregnant women and infants who are residents of the city of Flint will be eligible for the programme, regardless of the mother’s or family’s income, and families can spend the money in whatever way they think is best. It will be the first citywide programme of its kind in the United States.
MSU plans to begin enrollment for the programme in 2024 with the intent of continuing the initiative for at least five birth years of expectant mothers and newborns.
‘We’re supporting Rx Kids because of the boldness of its approach to significantly reducing childhood poverty and associated negative health effects,’ said Ridgway White, Mott Foundation president and CEO. ‘While similar projects elsewhere have focused on smaller or more unique cohorts, nothing like this has been done on a citywide scale. We’re excited to see how it could help children and families — both in Flint and throughout the country.’
According to five-year estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey, Flint’s overall childhood poverty rate is approximately 50 per cent — far above the state and national rates of approximately 16 per cent. In many areas of Flint, the poverty rate for kids under 5 exceeds 80 per cent. The impacts of poverty, the water crisis and the pandemic mean local children face daunting obstacles to growing up healthy.
The initiative includes a growing list of partners and endorsers. The Greater Flint Health Coalition will serve as a key community partner, supporting outreach and increasing awareness of and participation in the programme. Rx Kids will be administered by GiveDirectly, an international leader in direct cash transfers that recently received $110 million from MacKenzie Scott.