Baltimore ballot measure would offer new parents $1k under 'baby bonus' program


Some teachers in Baltimore, Maryland, are calling on the city’s voters to approve a ballot measure in November, dubbed the “baby bonus,” that would provide new parents with $1,000 in an effort to reduce childhood poverty beginning at birth.

Supporters of the initiative secured the 10,000 signatures needed for it to make it on the ballot following a recent campaign that featured extensive canvassing efforts and a logo of a flying cartoon stork with a bag of money in its beak, according to The Associated Press.

The measure is modeled after a first-in-the-nation program in Flint, Michigan, that began earlier this year in which women receive $1,500 during mid-pregnancy and $500 per month for the first year after giving birth.

Organizers behind the Baltimore campaign argue that more systemic change is needed at the national level to help families out of poverty and suggest that offering a “baby bonus” could be an important step in the right direction.

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Nate Golden, a teacher and the president of the Maryland Child Alliance, believes the “baby bonus” could have a “lifelong impact on a kid.”  (AP)

High school math teacher Nate Golden, president of the Maryland Child Alliance, which is advocating for the ballot initiative, said the measure could have a “lifelong impact on a kid.”

“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,” Golden told The Associated Press.

Golden said he hopes the program will show lawmakers in Baltimore and elsewhere that voters want policies that can help children in poverty succeed.

In Baltimore, an estimated 31% of school-aged children are in poverty, census data shows. Across the U.S., childhood poverty dipped during the COVID-19 pandemic due to federal relief programs before climbing seven percentage points back to about 12% in 2022.

Studies show that most children in the U.S. born into poverty will remain at roughly the same socioeconomic status for the remainder of their lives, according to The AP, which Golden said he sees in his classes each year.

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Studies show that most children in the U.S. born into poverty will remain at roughly the same socioeconomic status for the remainder of their lives, which high school teacher Nate Golden said he sees in his classes each year. (iStock)

“When you see what they’re going through outside school, I’m still going to demand their best in the classroom, but it’s just not enough,” he said. “We have to take care of these underlying needs before we can get kids to focus on learning.”

An estimated 7,000 children are born in Baltimore each year, meaning the program would cost about $7 million each year, or roughly 0.16% of the city’s annual operating budget, the initiative’s supporters said via The AP. 

If approved, the measure will not lead to higher taxes, but Baltimore’s City Council must determine how to allocate the funds.

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(An estimated 7,000 children are born in Baltimore each year, meaning the program would cost about $7 million each year, supporters of the measure told The Associated Press.)

The largest federal program that attempts to combat childhood poverty is the child tax credit that was expanded temporarily during the pandemic. Supporters of the Baltimore measure claim it leaves out some families because of needed paperwork and qualification requirements.

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore, a Democrat, campaigned on a promise to help the state’s youngest and most vulnerable residents. He signed legislation earlier this year that will offer grant funding for community organizations in areas with high concentrations of child poverty.

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Baltimore also launched a two-year pilot program in 2022 that offers guaranteed $1,000 per month income assistance payments to a group of young parents using federal pandemic-relief funds.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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