SAN FRANCISCO —A San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) program that provides monthly income supplements to pregnant Black women to reduce racial health disparities has been awarded $5 million instate funding to expand the program and provide support to additional families throughout California.
The Abundant Birth Project, an SFDPH program operated in partnership with Expecting Justice, will launch next year in Alameda, Contra Costa, Los Angeles and Riverside counties and will continue in San Francisco. The program will serve an additional 425 mothers and other birthing parents with grant funding recently announced by the California Department of Social Services.
“The Abundant Birth Project has proven to be successful in San Francisco and brings an innovative, equitable approach to addressing disproportionate health impacts largely among Black families, which is why I committed to investing $1.5 million over the next two years to grow the program in our City and neighboring counties,”said Mayor London Breed. “This guaranteed income program helps ease some of the financial burdens that all too often keep mothers from being able to prioritize their own health and ultimately impact the health of their babies and family. We hope the Abundant Birth Project serves as a model to address racial birth disparities throughout the region and state, and across the country.”
Research has shown that racism and its related socio-economic inequities are key factors contributing to poor maternal and infant health outcomes. Black women are twice as likely than white women to have a preterm birth and they experience the highest infant and maternal mortality rates among any population,in part because of wealth and income disparities. Premature births are the leading cause of newborn deaths and can lead to lifelong health issues, including chronic disease, learning disabilities, and behavioral health issues.
“For so long, Black women have been excluded from the resources needed to have safe and healthy pregnancies. This funding will provide pregnant people with economic stability during this critical phase in their lives while allowing public health institutions to test a novel and promising public health intervention,” said Dr. Zea Malawa, Director of Expecting Justice.
San Francisco was the first in the country to provide supplemental income to high-risk pregnant women when the Abundant Birth Project began in June 2021 to serve pregnant Black and Pacific Islander people. The program provided $1,000 monthly payments over 12 months to 150 recipients, beginning in early pregnancy, to reduce the racial birth disparities by easing economic stress.
Abundant Birth Project programs beyond San Francisco will provide Black mothers with monthly incomes of $600 to $1,000 for 12 months. Expecting Justice is partnering with the Alameda County Public Health Department, the Richmond Rapid Response Fund, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, and the Riverside Community Health Foundation to serve their communities over the next two-to-three years beginning in mid-2023.
“Thank you to the state of California for this crucial investment in the Abundant Birth Project as it works diligently to minimize racial health disparities caused by financial stressors,” said Dr. Grant Colfax, San Francisco Director of Health. “We are so proud and excited to see a San Francisco program grow to help hundreds more Black birthing parents in California and give infants the best chance for a healthy start in life.”
The health impacts of the Abundant Birth Project are being studied by the University of California at San Francisco, Berkeley and Davis. The $5 million grant is among $25 million in funding that the California Department of Social Services awarded to supplemental income programs this fall.