Frequently Asked Questions

How can I support Family Health Project’s work?

The best way to support Family Health Project is to give directly to the organization via our donation page with a recurring or a one-time donation. You can also give through your Donor Advised Fund. Family Health Project is also listed on the RoundUp App. RoundUp allows you to “round up” each expense you make to the nearest dollar with the difference being delivered to Family Health Project at the end of the month.

The more funding we have, the more moms and babies we are able to support. Aside from giving, you can also follow us and share our story on our social media accounts listed at the bottom of our page.

Why direct giving?

Poverty is not due to a lack of will or a lack of intelligence. Poverty is a lack of money. Family Health Project’s solution is simple: give new moms experiencing poverty $400 each month for 3 years. Direct giving empowers moms with the flexibility and autonomy to meet their family’s evolving needs. Whether it’s money for diapers, child care, rent, or medical care, we entrust the money directly with moms because they know best what they need.

Why new moms?

Family Health Project supports new moms because of the outsized benefits that the money provides for mothers and their babies. The first three years of a child’s life are the most important for brain development. Living in poverty inhibits brain development and hampers crucial social and emotional development, which can have profound and long-lasting effects on the trajectory of a child’s life. Yet, the data is clear: direct giving to low-income mothers reduces poverty and promotes healthy outcomes for babies. An early investment in children can have transformational effects on their lives.

Why does FHP only partner with Federally Qualified Community Health Centers?

We partner with Federally Qualified Community Health Centers (FQHCs) to refer and enroll moms into our program because FQHCs are where people living in poverty overwhelmingly go to receive their medical care. FQHCs also provide wrap-around services that give holistic support to moms and babies in our program.

How do moms get into a Family Health Project Program?

Eligible participants are first time mothers-to-be in their third trimester. Family Health Project currently has pilot programs at Whittier Street Health Center in Roxbury and Lynn Community Health Center in Lynn, Massachusetts. Both pilots are fully enrolled. But we are actively seeking funding to grow our program for additional moms and babies.

What makes Family Health Project scalable?

Family Health Project was designed specifically for scalability with four simple components: 1) partnership with a Federally Qualified Health Center to identify and enroll first time moms; 2) automation of recurring payments to moms via debit card; 3) assistance using the card and navigating social services; 4) funding from philanthropy.

But won’t this disincentivize work?

It is a myth that giving money to people in poverty disincentivizes work. In fact, direct giving to new moms is linked with increased employment rates, because moms can afford child care to go to work, public transportation to find better jobs, etcetera.

But how do we know it’s effective?

There are numerous studies and programs that show the positive effects that reoccurring direct giving has for the development of children living in poverty. Most notable is the Baby’s First Years study, which began in 2018 and found that “infants of mothers in low-income households receiving $333 in monthly cash support were more likely to show faster brain activity, in a pattern associated with learning and development at later ages.”

Won’t the extra cash adversely affect the moms’ benefits?

Short answer: no, but it’s complicated.

We see Family Health Project and direct giving as one way to cure our broken benefits system. As a nation we’ve created an array of programs to support low-income families and give them a chance, but most services offer “a little bit here, a little bit there,” and are designed to dissuade “dependence.” Many of these benefit programs come with a labyrinth of red tape and complex requirements and may in fact help keep poor people trapped in a cycle of poverty. Parents can’t use food stamps to pay the electric bill, for example, and if they earn even a little bit of extra money, they risk losing their eligibility for other public benefits.

We’ve worked hard to ensure that participation will not adversely affect mom’s benefits or taxable income. The Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance considers our direct cash benefit to be “unaccountable” when determining eligibility for other state benefit programs. The money given to moms is classified as a gift, not income, and thus does not adversely affect Medicaid eligibility. Unfortunately, we’re unable to enroll moms that are currently living in subsidized housing, though with a waitlist of over 3 years, it has not been an issue.

How do we know what moms will use the money for?

Data gleaned from almost every other similar direct cash benefit program shows that moms use money for necessities such as food, medicine, rent, transportation, and so on.  The money is almost never used for what economists term “temptation goods” such as drugs or alcohol. An ancient myth about people living in poverty is that they make bad choices, but the preponderance of research, going back decades and across cultures, demonstrates otherwise.