Seattle Guaranteed Basic Income Pilot
Supporting pregnant families with no-strings-attached GBI program
Perigee Fund believes that focusing resources that support families and reduce stress during the sensitive prenatal-to-3 period can improve outcomes for children and parents. Boosting the financial security of low-income parents and primary caregivers with unrestricted cash has the direct effect of reducing the overload and immediate stress that families experience.
Perigee Fund is in a planning phase, working with partners in the lead, to launch a no-strings-attached Guaranteed Basic Income (GBI) pilot in Seattle in 2022. It will be part of a growing number of local GBI pilots across the United States. Perigee’s pilot will be somewhat unique in its focus on the prenatal-to-3 period, starting during pregnancy and extending through the child’s third year. It will also be the first in the nation to center Native American/American Indian, Alaska Native, Pacific Islander, and Native Hawaiian pregnant people. Hummingbird Indigenous Doula and Family Services is leading the planning effort with community engagement.
Unconditional and unrestricted cash embodies a set of values that depart sharply from the paternalistic, stigmatizing approach the U.S. has taken toward poverty alleviation for decades. Further, unconditional cash has numerous and well documented benefits for household economic stability and maternal and child health. Studies illustrate that the cognitive and brain development of low-income children differs from that of children in higher-income families. Higher family income is associated with better performance on assessments of children’s language, memory, executive function and socioemotional functioning, with corresponding associations found in the neural structure and function of brain regions that support these skills.
Until recently, GBI was considered a fringe idea. Emerging evidence from various pilots in different phases and the COVID-19 pandemic have provided data and insight into what families need to thrive. There is an opportunity to continue to make the case and build public and political will for unrestricted cash.