By The Imprint Staff Reports
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A nonprofit in Washington, D.C., has launched a guaranteed income pilot program supporting Black mothers with current or recent child welfare involvement.
Mother’s Outreach Network will provide $500 a month for three years through its cash assistance program Mother Up. Five mothers began receiving the assistance in May, with a plan to eventually support 50 families through this program.
The goal of providing no-strings-attached cash assistance is to prevent further involvement with child protective services by helping vulnerable parents meet their families’ basic needs, as many child welfare cases are based on neglect findings stemming from poverty.
Research has found that supplementing low-income families’ incomes can dramatically slash childhood poverty and lead to real reductions in CPS investigations as well as instances of abuse and neglect.
“It’s good for the individual, it’s good for their family, community and in fact, the entire economy,” Melody Webb, co-founder and executive director of Mother’s Outreach Network, told Street Sense Media.
Webb said Black mothers are the focus of the pilot because they are the most vulnerable. Black families across the country face investigation and separation by the child welfare system at a disproportionate rate. In D.C., nearly 8 in 10 children in foster care are Black, far higher than the 54% of the child population they represent. In an article published last year in the Columbia Journal of Race and Law, Webb also cites the “Black Women Best” economic framework suggesting that “uplifting Black women in the American economy is crucial to the economic solvency of economically excluded Black families and the American economy.”
Mother’s Outreach Network is also supporting local legislation to implement a district-wide child tax credit proposal and a guaranteed income proposal for low-income families. The District Child Tax Credit would provide $500 per child annually for single parents earning less than $120,000 per year, or joint filers with a combined income lower than $175,000. The Financial Support for Families with Children Amendment Act would provide $1,000 per child per year for families making less than $20,000 per year, or less than $10,000 annually for single parents.
Guaranteed income projects like Mother Up and the Financial Support for Families with Children Act are direct cash supports predominantly targeting low-income families. This is different from the universal basic income model, which provides cash assistance without restrictions on existing income.
Jurisdictions across the country have begun piloting guaranteed income programs, some targeting low-income individuals in general and others designed to support particularly vulnerable populations. Several in California have launched in recent years to support foster youth in the years after they age out of the system. A $35 million statewide program also prioritizes low-income pregnant people.