The Philadelphia Department of Public Health announced on Monday funding for the Philly Joy Bank, a program designed to give some pregnant women a guaranteed monthly income to help reduce racial disparities in infant mortality.
Around 250 pregnant Philadelphia women will receive the “no-strings-attached” income, and whoever receives a cash payment will be able to spend it as they see fit, the City of Philadelphia said in a press release.
“Infant mortality in Philadelphia is a solvable crisis,” Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole said. “We know that being able to better support pregnant people and new parents helps keep babies alive. As the poorest big city in the country, this is not always easy, especially in areas of the city that are being crushed by generational poverty and systemic racism.”
The Philly Joy Bank comes in the wake of previous successes seen through other “no-strings-attached guaranteed income projects,” according to Bettigole.
When comparing the ten most populated U.S. cities, Philadelphia falls victim to the highest infant mortality rate in the first year of life, according to the release.
“Black infants in our city are over four times more likely to die before their first birthday than White infants. The Philly Joy Bank is one of the first guaranteed income during pregnancy pilots,” the release read. “The Health Department believes that giving cash during and immediately after pregnancy is a promising approach to addressing these racial disparities and improving birth outcomes.”
Along with the cash payments, participants under the Philly Joy Bank will be offered home visitations, financial counseling, doulas, and lactation support.
The William Penn Foundation and Spring Point Partners gifted generous contributions to the Philly Joy Bank, estimated to be over $3 million, according to the release.
“To be eligible for the Philly Joy Bank pilot, residents must be pregnant, have a household income of less than $100,000 per year annually, and live in one of the three Philly neighborhoods with the highest rates of very low birth weight: Cobbs Creek, Strawberry Mansion, Nicetown-Tioga.,” according to the city.