On January 10, 2024, at 10 am, City of Flint pregnant moms and newborns started enrolling in Rx Kids, the first citywide maternal and infant cash prescription program in the nation.
Joined by Mayor Sheldon Neeley, Michigan State University Interim President Teresa Woodruff, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation President Ridgway White, and Rx Kids families and newborns, Governor Gretchen Whitmer kicked off the historic launch at a 10:30 am press conference at Hurley Children’s Hospital.
Rx Kids has begun enrolling every pregnant mom and newborn in the City of Flint – with no income restrictions or strings attached – empowering parents with the freedom and choice to make the decisions that fit their families’ needs. Every mom will receive $1,500 during mid-pregnancy for food, prenatal care, rent, cribs, or whatever they need. After birth, families will receive $500/month for the baby’s first twelve months they can spend on needs such as formula, diapers, or childcare. The program holds the promise to eradicate poverty among families with infants in Flint.
Led by Flint pediatrician Mona Hanna-Attisha, MD, MPH, Associate Dean for Public Health in the College of Human Medicine and Director of the Michigan State University-Hurley Children’s Hospital Pediatric Public Health Initiative, Rx Kids is a prescription for health, hope, and opportunity.
“This first-in-the-nation initiative boldly reimagines how society supports families and children—how we care for each other,” says Dr. Mona. “Rx Kids embodies Flint’s can-do spirit of not only dreaming but also making what seems impossible a reality to ensure that every child will flourish. Rx Kids is powered by science and driven by community.”
Why Flint? The poorest city in the state and one of the poorest in the country, almost 70% of kids in Flint are growing up in poverty – 5x the U.S. average. Every year, around 1,200 children are born in Flint to families, many facing severe hardships. The prenatal and first months of life are critical for a baby’s current and lifelong health and development; it is also when families struggle most financially.
“Investing in strong families is an investment in Flint’s future,” Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley said. “Thanks to Dr. Mona, Flint is leading the way on a transformational model of care for families that I hope will spread across our nation. Rx Kids will support mothers and children in Flint when they are most vulnerable. This blessing will lift families out of poverty and improve health outcomes. Our prayer is that we will improve maternal and infant health, and help Flint families raise strong, healthy babies.”
City of Flint residents who are pregnant or have a baby born as of January 1, 2024, can complete the brief mom-tested application online at FlintRxKids.com beginning January 10, 2024, at 10 am. To sign up, participants need only verify identity, residency, and pregnancy (at least 20 weeks) or guardianship. After verification, participants will receive a message outlining what to expect next. Cash prescriptions will begin at the point of enrollment. Enrollment support, including chat and call center information, and FAQs are available at FlintRxKids.com
Rx Kids was developed in partnership with Flint parents, community organizations, and national experts. In addition to the MSU-Hurley Pediatric Public Health Initiative, Rx Kids partner organizations include University of Michigan Poverty Solutions, Greater Flint Health Coalition, and program administrator, GiveDirectly.
"For more than 13 years, GiveDirectly has helped give unconditional cash transfers to people in need across the country and around the world — we look forward to bringing that expertise to support families in Flint,” said GiveDirectly U.S. Country Director Dustin Palmer.
“Research shows that cash support during pregnancy and infancy results in healthier pregnancies, improved early childhood development, and even sustained impacts into adulthood."
As the first citywide program, robust research will evaluate the impact of Rx Kids on participant health and community-wide outcomes. Rx Kids aims to impact economic stability, housing and food security, health care utilization, maternal and infant health outcomes, child welfare, and family well-being and stress. Other potential impacts include community reinvestment, neighborhood safety, civic engagement, population stability, and societal savings.
Rx Kids co-director, H. Luke Shaefer, professor of public policy and director of Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan, highlighted the power of a transformational community-driven initiative that builds on worldwide evidence.
“Countries across the globe have adopted unconditional child cash benefits and seen child poverty plummet and health improve, with some of the biggest impacts for infants. The historic 2021 expanded Child Tax Credit had the same effects in the U.S., but it was not renewed. Flint is leading the nation by building on this evidence, and creating an easy-to-replicate playbook for how we care for our youngest kids.”
A community-wide celebration of the Rx Kids is planned for Valentine’s Day (February 14, 2024). Free family-friendly activities and resources will be held at the Flint Children’s Museum from 10 am-4 pm. A love-filled evening Launch Bash at the iconic Capitol Theatre, produced by BeatsXBeers, will feature local and national talent including Flint Institute of Music, Mama Sol, David Blight, Semaj Brown, Feimstro, and more. For more information, tickets, and sponsorship opportunities, visit FlintRxKids.com.
A public-private partnership, Rx Kids is made possible thanks to major support from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and the State of Michigan. Other founding funders include the Skyline Foundation, Ruth Mott Foundation, City of Flint, Doris Duke Foundation, Jamie and Denise Jacob Family Foundation/Ajax Paving, Michigan Health Endowment Fund, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, Children’s Foundation, HAP CareSource, Community Foundation of Greater Flint, Mott Children’s Health Center Roy Peterson Fund and Jeremy and Amy Piper Fund at the Community Foundation of Greater Flint, Hurley Foundation, Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation, and the generosity of individual donors. The project is estimated to cost $55 million for five years of newborns; over $43 million has been raised to date.
To learn more about Rx Kids, visit FlintRxKids.com and @FlintRxKids on Facebook and Instagram.
January 10, 2024