Giving Compass' Take:
- A new income program in Washington provides financial support for more than 100 Indigenous pregnant people residing in King and Pierce counties.
- What are the underlying reasons for the disproportionate maternal mortality rates in Indigenous populations?
- Read more about Indigenous peoples here.
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Washington state will soon be home to the nation's first guaranteed income program specifically designed to assist Indigenous parents and families.
The program, known as The Nest, is hosted by Indigenous community organization Hummingbird Indigenous Family Services, which provides direct services to families during pregnancy and early childhood. The new, no-strings-attached income program will issue $1,250 monthly payments to up to 150 Indigenous pregnant people residing in Washington's King and Pierce counties. Payments will start during pregnancy and continue until their child's third birthday, delivering as much as $45,000 per family, the organization explains. The Nest program is set to run for five years.
The Nest is funded by the nonprofit Perigee Fund and supported by technology company AidKit. AidKit provides payment technology and support to guaranteed income programs around the country, including one of the nation's largest guaranteed income pilots launched so far, servicing thousands of low-income families residing in Cook County, Illinois, as part of the Cook County Promise Guaranteed Income Pilot.
"Indigenous People in the Seattle area experience disproportionately high rates of poverty, housing insecurity, infant mortality and sexual and intimate partner violence," wrote AidKit in the program's announcement. According to a 2023 report by the Maternal Mortality Review — a process required by the Washington Department of Health under its Maternal Mortality Review Law — "American Indian and Alaska Native people had higher maternal mortality rates than any other race/ethnic group."
The report found that racism, discrimination, stigma, and other social determinants of health contribute to these disproportionate maternal mortality rates, pregnancy complications, and other barriers to accessing high-quality reproductive and perinatal healthcare. "Black, American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, and rural communities face especially disproportionate risks, due to these systemic inequities."
Hummingbird Indigenous Family Services was founded in 2021, responding to the success of the 2019 Daybreak Star Doulas program, which provided community-based Indigenous doula and lactation counselor trainings. The organization now offers free Indigenous-centered home services for families, covers costs associated with out-of-state abortion care, and hosts its own doula program, Hummingbird Indigenous BirthKeepers, offering free services to pregnant people who identify as American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander and live in King County.
Read the full article about aid to Indigenous families by Chase DiBenedetto at Mashable.