WASHINGTON — D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced a new program Thursday to provide financial support for new and expectant mothers.
The mayor's office has teamed up with the Office of the Deputy Mayor of Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) to create a "Strong Families, Strong Future DC" pilot program. It's a $1.5 million direct cash transfer program to support new and expectant mothers in Wards 5, 7 and 8.
Bowser explained in a statement that the purpose of the program is "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.”
Martha's Table, a nonprofit, is tasked with launching the program in February by providing 132 new and expectant mothers in Wards 5, 7 and 8 with $900 payments each month for a year.
“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,” Bowser said in the statement.
According to a LendingTree report from September 2021, the average cost of raising a newborn is $29,000 when accounting for housing, clothes, insurance, daycare, and food. New financial challenges can especially increase stress for new mothers who may spend up to $300 a month on items like wipes, diapers and infant formula.
Kim Ford, president and CEO of Martha's Table, said in a statement that the nonprofit is proud to support building strong families in the District.
“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,” she said.
Through this program, Martha's Table plans to support the maternal health of mothers in areas in the District in need of economic mobility. The nonprofit "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."
Deputy Mayor John Falcicchio said in a statement that COVID-19 has disproportionately affected women and mothers.
"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."