City of Flint pregnant moms and newborns begin enrolling in Rx Kids

January 11, 2024

Rx Kids logo

Governor Gretchen Whitmer was joined by Michigan State University Interim President Teresa Woodruff, MSU College of Human Medicine Dean Aron Sousa, Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley, and Charles Stewart Mott Foundation President Ridgway White for a historic launch of Rx Kids, January 10, at Hurley Children’s Hospital. 

Every pregnant mom and newborn in the city of Flint is eligible for Rx Kids, with no income restrictions. Pregnant moms receive $1,500 during mid-pregnancy and after birth, families receive $500 per month for the baby’s first 12 months. The program holds the promise to eradicate deep poverty among families with infants in Flint by empowering parents with the freedom to choose how best to use the funds to fit their families’ needs – formula, rent, diapers, childcare, or whatever they might need. 

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha and a small child.Led by Mona Hanna-Attisha, MD, MPH, associate dean for public health in the College of Human Medicine and director of the Michigan State University-Hurley Children’s Hospital Pediatric Public Health Initiative, Rx Kids is a prescription for health, hope, and opportunity. 

“This first-in-the-nation initiative boldly reimagines how society supports families and children—how we care for each other,” said Hanna-Attisha. “Rx Kids embodies Flint’s can-do spirit of not only dreaming but also making what seems impossible a reality to ensure that every child will flourish. Rx Kids is powered by science and driven by community.” 

“This collaborative effort will provide Flint’s babies with an extraordinary start to their lives and a remarkable example of what a community, philanthropy, and a medical school can do in partnership,” said College of Human Medicine Dean Sousa. “We are deeply thankful for the vision of Ridgway White and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation for their unwavering support for MSU College of Human Medicine’s public health initiatives in Flint.” 

Why Flint? As the poorest city in the state and one of the poorest in the country, almost 70% of kids in Flint are growing up in poverty – 5x the U.S. average. Each year, about 1,200 children are born in Flint, many of whom born into families facing severe hardships. The prenatal and first months of life are critical for a baby’s current and lifelong health and development; it is also when families struggle most financially. 

“Investing in strong families is an investment in Flint’s future,” Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley said. “Thanks to Dr. Mona, Flint is leading the way on a transformational model of care for families that I hope will spread across our nation. Rx Kids will support mothers and children in Flint when they are most vulnerable. This blessing will lift families out of poverty and improve health outcomes. Our prayer is that we will improve maternal and infant health, and help Flint families raise strong, healthy babies.”

Rx Kids was developed in partnership with Flint parents, community organizations, and national experts. In addition to the MSU-Hurley Pediatric Public Health Initiative, Rx Kids partner organizations include University of Michigan Poverty Solutions, Greater Flint Health Coalition, and program administrator, GiveDirectly.

"For more than 13 years, GiveDirectly has helped give unconditional cash transfers to people in need across the country and around the world — we look forward to bringing that expertise to support families in Flint,” said GiveDirectly U.S. Country Director Dustin Palmer. “Research shows that cash support during pregnancy and infancy results in healthier pregnancies, improved early childhood development, and even sustained impacts into adulthood." 

Rx Kids enrollment media launch.As the first citywide program, robust research will evaluate the impact of Rx Kids on participant health and community-wide outcomes. Rx Kids aims to impact economic stability, housing and food security, health care utilization, maternal and infant health outcomes, child welfare, and family well-being and stress. Other potential impacts include community reinvestment, neighborhood safety, civic engagement, population stability, and societal savings.

Rx Kids co-director, H. Luke Shaefer, professor of public policy and director of Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan, highlighted the power of a transformational community-driven initiative that builds on worldwide evidence.

“Countries across the globe have adopted unconditional child cash benefits and seen child poverty plummet and health improve, with some of the biggest impacts for infants,” said Shaefer. “The historic 2021 expanded Child Tax Credit had the same effects in the U.S., but it was not renewed. Flint is leading the nation by building on this evidence, and creating an easy-to-replicate playbook for how we care for our youngest kids.”

The project is estimated to cost $55 million for five years of newborns; over $43 million has been raised to date. Rx Kids is made possible by the support from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and the State of Michigan. Other founding funders include the Skyline Foundation, Ruth Mott Foundation, City of Flint, Doris Duke Foundation, Jamie and Denise Jacob Family Foundation/Ajax Paving, Michigan Health Endowment Fund, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, Children’s Foundation, HAP CareSource, Community Foundation of Greater Flint, Mott Children’s Health Center Roy Peterson Fund and Jeremy and Amy Piper Fund at the Community Foundation of Greater Flint, Hurley Foundation, Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation, and individual donors.  

City of Flint residents who are pregnant or have a baby born as of January 1, 2024, can enroll online at