News & Perspectives

News & Perspectives

An Update from our Financial Pilot Supporting Young, First-Time Parents in Springfield

Sarita Rogers, Chief Program Officer of the Children's Trust, gives an update about the Family Financial Pilot.

On Monday, April 22, 2024, the Children’s Trust shared an overview of its Healthy Families Massachusetts (HFM) Family Financial Pilot specifically designed to assist young, first-time parents and the impact they are seeing after the pilot's first 10 months. The Children’s Trust was joined by Square One in Springfield who is administering the pilot. Launched in June 2023, this is the first of its kind to provide cash assistance to parents enrolled in the Healthy Families MA program in Springfield. Healthy Families MA connects young, first-time parents to a home visitor during pregnancy and the first three years of the child’s life. 

"Financial stress is a significant barrier to family well-being. By addressing the economic challenges that parents face through this pilot, we aim to provide immediate financial relief and support parents in creating a more stable environment for their families," said Sarita Rogers, Chief Program Officer of the Children’s Trust. 

Program participants enrolled in the Healthy Families MA program in Springfield receive $500 per month for the first 15 months, then three additional monthly payments of $550, $650, and $750, respectively, for a total of 18 months. There are currently 132 families enrolled in the pilot. Participants in the program report spending the payments on basic needs and occasionally saving for big events. They also report feeling positive about their lives and interactions with their baby. 

Destiny Rivera, a Healthy Families MA program participant since June 2022, spoke about her experience in the pilot program and how it has helped her and her two-year-old daughter. “I use it for the basics for my daughter,” said Rivera, who works at Baystate Health but needs to stretch every cent of her paycheck. “It gives me room to breathe,” she added, also noting that she works closely with her Healthy Families MA home visitor to create monthly budgets to help her live within her means. 

Child welfare involvement is closely connected to poverty. Research from Chapin Hall demonstrates that low-income families who experience at least one material hardship are three times more likely to be involved in a neglect investigation and four times more likely to be involved in a child abuse investigation. The provision of economic and concrete support is associated with reduced risk for both neglect and physical abuse. The goal of this program is to help families reduce financial stress and create safer and more nurturing environments for children. 

 Because Healthy Families MA program participants meet with home visitors regularly, the first-of-its-kind financial assistance pilot is unique in its built-in case management component as well as access to referrals for other basic family needs."

The Healthy Families MA program in Springfield is administered through Square One, a non-profit organization that provides early learning and family support services.

“With less stress about money, parents have the time and mental energy to focus on the fun and developmentally crucial parts of parenting like reading books at bedtime or visiting the park,” said Dawn DiStefano, president and CEO of Square One. 

Media Coverage: 

How a $500 monthly stipend is helping more than 100 Springfield-area families 

Children’s Trust, Square One partner for financial program to help new families