Direct Cash Assistance to Pregnant Individuals: A Tool for Improving Maternal Health Outcomes

by Amel Khalil

Post by Amel Khalil, Program Manager at Impact Charitable

Pregnancy and childbirth are significant events in a person’s life, and providing adequate support during this period can help ensure positive maternal health outcomes such as reduced birth complications, average birth weight babies, and reduced preterm births.

Through a newly established partnership with goldbug, a company focused on products for babies and families, Impact Charitable is developing a Direct Cash Assistance (DCA) program for pregnant individuals. DCA programming is one of the tools used by Impact Charitable to provide necessary financial assistance to communities in need. 

Direct Cash Assistance programs have become an increasingly popular tool for addressing poverty and economic inequality. These programs provide direct financial support to individuals or households, often with no strings attached, allowing them to meet their basic needs. Evidence from Impact Charitable’s other DCA programs demonstrates that participating families had improved financial stability, better mental and emotional well-being, and reduced stress. A core belief behind cash transfers is that people should be provided the resources they need and trusted to make decisions for themselves about how to use those resources. 

However, not all DCA programs are created equal. Some programs may fail to reach those who need it most, while others may perpetuate harmful stereotypes and reinforce systemic barriers. This is why Impact Charitable employs a community-led design process whenever possible.

Community-led design is an approach that involves engaging community members in the design and implementation of programs that directly affect them. This approach can be applied to DCA programs to ensure that they are designed with the needs and experiences of the community in mind.

Benefits of community-led design can include: 

  1. Increased participation and buy-in from the community – community members may have valuable insights and knowledge that can inform the design of the program and help ensure that it is tailored to the specific needs of the community.
  2. Reduced stigma and discrimination – By involving community members in the design process, DCA programs can be designed in a way that reduces stigma and discrimination and ensures that all members of the community have equal access to support.
  3. Improved program effectiveness – Program designers can gain valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities that exist within the community. This can lead to a more effective program that better meets the needs of its beneficiaries.
  4. Increased transparency and accountability – When community members are involved in the design and implementation of DCA programs, there is increased transparency and accountability. This can help build trust between program designers and community members, as well as between community members themselves. This can ultimately lead to a more successful program and a stronger community.

Currently in its design stage this pilot is born from goldbug’s vision for the program: improved maternal health outcomes, including maternal well-being and joy. This program will be centered in the experiences and stories of women, and will build upon the community relationships goldbug and their nonprofit partners have already nurtured through other programs.

In order to achieve a successful community led design, Impact Charitable is working in collaboration with goldbug, Income Movement, Pinon Project, Denver Health and Lived Experience Advisors from the community to design a pilot program that will uplift and impact the lives of pregnant individuals who may be struggling to find support.

Providing people with financial resources and improved access to essential health services can help ensure that pregnant individuals have the support they need to have a healthy birth and positive start to motherhood. By piloting this direct cash program in maternal health, the partnership aims not only to improve maternal health outcomes but also to influence Direct Cash programs on a wider scale, thereby bringing much needed relief to families across the country.

About the author

Amel brings a wealth of experience working across private and non-profit sectors. She currently consults across a number of different organizations and brings a depth of experience in communications, project management, direct service, and grants management.


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