Rx Kids launches, celebrates with free Valentine’s Day community bash in Flint

FLINT, Michigan — It’s the first of its kind, a citywide maternal and infant cash prescription program, and it’s happening right here in Flint. To celebrate the launch of Rx Kids, the program is hosting a free community-wide celebration on Valentine’s Day. 

The ‘All We Need is Love’ launch bash includes family-friendly activities at the Flint Children’s Museum from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with resources for moms and babies, including health insurance connections, childcare resources, free cell phones, early childhood programming, and more.

There’s also an adults-only evening of entertainment at the Capitol Theatre from 7 to 9 p.m. produced by Beats x Beers. The event will feature local performers, comedians, and news anchors as well as a special performance by nationally acclaimed R&B artist Raheem DeVaughn.

While supplies last, there will be many giveaways, including a free Rx Kids teddy bear, books and resources from EarlyOn Genesee County, Delta College - PBS Branch, and free flow yoga by Crim Fitness Foundation. There will also be small live animals from For-Mar Nature Preserve & Arboretum, story time by Applewood, and costume characters by EarlyOn Genesee County.

The first 600 attendees will enjoy free Rx Kids signature ice cream from MSU Dairy Store. Specialty kids mocktails and adult cocktails will also be for purchase. 

Mona Hanna-Attisha, MD, MPH, is a pediatrician and director of the Michigan State University-Hurley Children’s Hospital Pediatric Public Health Initiative and Associate Dean for Public Health at the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine. She spoke about the recent Rx Kids launch and just how special it is. 
Mona Hanna-Attisha.
“This is a huge and possibly historic program that’s starting in the city of Flint, and we had to celebrate it,” Hanna-Attisha says. “This is about uplifting an entire community and about sending a strong message that this is how we’re supposed to care and love each other. We thought there would be no better day to celebrate the launch of this historic program on Valentine’s Day.”

Rx Kids launched in January 2024 and has raised over $43 million in public and private funds to help provide mothers and babies with a no-strings-attached cash payment of $1,500 during pregnancy and $500/month throughout the baby’s first year. Participants can receive direct deposits or a prepaid debit card. 

The program aims to help parents with financial security and to assist City of Flint residents in taking care of newborns. The program is made possible with support from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the State of Michigan, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Ruth Mott Foundation, the City of Flint, Michigan Health Endowment Fund, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, Children’s Foundation, Community Foundation of Greater Flint, and many others. 

Luke Shaefer, professor of public policy at the University of Michigan, spoke about the mission of Rx Kids, what it can provide for families, and how it might even serve as inspiration to other communities outside of Flint. 
Luke Shaefer.
“It builds on programs that have happened all around the world, that come alongside families and provide cash that can be used to buy food, diapers, pay the utility bill, etc.,” Shaefer says.

“Nothing like this has ever happened in the United States before where an entire city has said, ‘We’re going to help families and support the incredibly hard-working parents.’ It really lifts Flint up as a national model. Flint is taking a stand for its littlest kids that we think is going to be replicated all over the country.”

The program has no income requirements, just providing documented proof of pregnancy, and later, the birth of the child. It is available only to City of Flint residents. Interested residents can apply online. 

Hanna-Attisha witnesses many families and expectant mothers struggling financially on a daily basis. She knows this program will be a lifeline to many families in Flint. 

“Families are the poorest right around childbirth,” she says. “That’s really maddening for me as a pediatrician because that’s the most important time of development for children. Your brain doubles in size that first year of life, so that’s the time when we really should be all hands on deck and supporting families. It’s hard for low-income, middle-class, and everybody to have a kid. It’s expensive and you lose income.”

Based on birth records, there are about 1000-1200 babies in Flint born each year. Hanna-Attisha hopes the program can stick around for at least six years, positively impacting families in the community. 

“We hope that the program will do what we think it will do – improve health, decrease disparities, promote family financial security, and revitalize the local Flint economy. We’re also really excited about sharing this new vision of how to care for each other with the state, and really, the rest of the nation.”
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Read more articles by Sarah Spohn.