New Parents in Baltimore Could Get $1000 Baby Bonus to Fight Poverty

Voters will get the chance to vote on the ballot measure in November.
New Parents in Baltimore Could Get $1000 Baby Bonus to Fight Poverty
Nate Golden, president of the Maryland Child Alliance, poses for a portrait with a petition form for the Baltimore Baby Fund, in Baltimore, Md., on July 3, 2024. (Stephanie Scarbrough/AP Photo)
Jana J. Pruet
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New parents in Baltimore, Maryland, could receive a $1,000 “baby bonus” if voters approve the proposal in November.

A group of Baltimore teachers is behind the Baltimore Baby Bonus Fund, a proposed charter amendment that they say aims to reduce childhood poverty from birth. They recently secured the necessary 10,000 signatures to bring the question to voters as a ballot initiative in November.

If voters approve the ballot measure, beginning in 2025, all new parents, including adoptive parents, in Baltimore will receive a one-time payment of at least $1,000. The amendment organizers say the Baltimore City Council will determine the “amount each year using all relevant data, including surplus monies in the fund, historical data, historical birth rates, and estimated future property values.”

An estimated 7,000 children are born in Baltimore each year, so the program would cost about $7 million annually, which is roughly 0.16 percent of the city’s annual operating budget, according to supporters. The initiative won’t result in higher taxes, but if it passes, Baltimore’s City Council will allocate funds.

The funds will come through an annual appropriation of at least $0.03 on every $100 of assessed property value in Baltimore, in addition to grants and donations.

Mayor Brandon Scott did not immediately respond to The Epoch Times’ request for comment on the initiative.

The program would be based on a universal approach to defray the cost of creating and implementing a qualification system.

The campaign’s organizers say more systemic change is needed on a national level to help boost families out of poverty, but they believe giving new parents a modest $1,000 payment could offer a first step.

In Baltimore, an estimated 31 percent of school-aged children are experiencing poverty, according to census data. Nationally, that number is 12 percent.

The Baltimore initiative is loosely modeled after a program implemented this year in Flint, Michigan. In that program, women receive $1,500 mid-pregnancy and $500 per month for the first year after giving birth. The Flint program was the first of its kind, according to city officials.

Nate Golden, who is leading the initiative in Baltimore, said it’s worth including everyone regardless of income level to avoid excluding the poorest families. Mr. Golden is a high school math teacher who helped found the Maryland Child Alliance, which is pushing for the ballot initiative.

He also said he hopes the program will show elected leaders in Baltimore and beyond that voters favor implementing policies that help vulnerable children succeed.

“If we’re going to spend a limited amount of money, where do you get the most bang for your buck? Research says at birth,“ Mr. Golden said. ”This could literally have a lifelong impact on a kid.”

In 2022, Baltimore launched a two-year pilot program using federal COVID-relief money to provide guaranteed income assistance payments of $1,000 per month to a select group of young parents. A recent report evaluating the ongoing pilot found that participants had experienced more housing stability and improved mental health during the first year.

‘ENOUGH Act’

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore campaigned on a promise to help the state’s youngest and most vulnerable residents.
Earlier this year, the governor unveiled the “ENOUGH Act” to end poverty.

“We’ve had enough with poverty, crime, and a system where generational challenges go unaddressed. We’ve had enough of the same neighborhoods facing the same issues—and coming up with the same solutions that drive the same results,” Mr. Moore said in a statement.

“We will help transform distressed communities into places with top schools, good jobs, safe neighborhoods, quality housing, and economic momentum. That’s the future we’re trying to build. And we’re going to build it in partnership.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Jana J. Pruet is an award-winning investigative journalist. She covers news in Texas with a focus on politics, energy, and crime. She has reported for many media outlets over the years, including Reuters, The Dallas Morning News, and TheBlaze, among others. She has a journalism degree from Southern Methodist University. Send your story ideas to: [email protected]