Flint-based Rx Kids program receives $16.5 million in Michigan state funding

FLINT, Michigan — The Rx Kids program recently received $16.5 million in Michigan state funding to help alleviate poverty in Flint and assist with health disparities. The first of its kind, Rx Kids is led by Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha at the Pediatric Public Health Initiative in Flint, Michigan.

The program is an effort to address child poverty and health equity by providing mothers in Flint with direct cash payments throughout their pregnancy and throughout the first year of the child's life.

“The state is supporting this first-in-the-nation effort to deal with health disparities and alleviate poverty,” says Lieutenant Governor of Michigan Garlin Gilchrist II. “At the same time, expectant mothers will get a no-strings-attached $500 check every month, all the way through their pregnancy through their child's first birthday.”

The project is estimated to cost $55 million for five birth years of mothers and their babies. In April, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation committed a $15 million challenge grant to catalyze support according to a news release from the Michigan State University Department of Public Health

Gilchrist states that this program will be available to every expectant mother in Flint. “This is a game changer because we know that poverty is a contributor to poor outcomes for children and mothers, especially for Black mothers and other mothers of color.” 

Rx Kids aims to improve health, equity, and opportunity by increasing economic stability, housing and food security, healthcare utilization, and many other outcomes, according to the Michigan State University Department of Public Health.

“That first year of life is when you're seeing incredibly rapid brain development for the baby,” says Gilchrist. “We have families going through this transition, and frankly, need more support than they probably ever have.” 

While Rx Kids continues to garner the support of partners, endorsers, and funders, the community is also able to donate to the program as well.  

Gilchrist wants people engaged in the community. “I mean, the reason the Michigan budget is structured the way it is, is because of the conversations we had with community members about what was most important.” 

“We're proud of the partnership with the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine and Dr. Mona and I see it as the foundation to help make this happen,” says Gilchrist. “Flint has become a leader in this area of alleviating poverty and dealing with health disparities.” 

Gilchrist believes that the funding will make a difference. He states the research shows that it should, and they are going to do everything they can to prove that it does in Flint.

“I think other communities around the state and country will take note. There's no program like this in the country,” says Gilchrist. “We are showing that Michigan can lead the way when it comes to addressing poverty and health disparities.”

To learn more about Rx Kids or to donate, visit FlintRxKids.com.
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