Financial Resolutions

Sacramento County Approves Basic Income Program For Black and Native American Families

Sacramento County has given the green light to a program that will offer $725 monthly to low-income families of Black and Native American descent, with no conditions attached. This initiative is financially supported by United Way, which is a coalition of thousands of local charitable organizations.

The Family First Sacramento pilot

After the country board unanimously voted to support the program, the selection of families for financial aid is expected to start by July. Previously, Sacramento worked with United Way from June 2021 to May 2023, and they gave $300 per month to around 100 families in need. 

Conservatives support the program 

Ultraconservative Sacramento County Supervisor Sue Frost was not initially sold on the idea. She explained that when she heard “guaranteed income,” her “conservative red flags started to go up.” Yet, she will support the pilot despite believing it was incorrectly worded. 

The parameters of guaranteed income

The Sacramento County Department of Child, Family, and Adult Services (DCFAS) said that Family First will assist at least 200 families who meet the parameters. One of the aims is to support “the dignity of individuals and families” and promote child safety. 

Why only certain families? 

While Black children make up 11 percent of the nation’s children population, they also make 30 percent of calls to Child Protective Services. Black children are four times more likely to be removed from their parents by the state than white children in the county. Native American children are two times as likely to be removed.

Ending child poverty

During the board meeting, Michelle Callejas, the county’s director of child, family, and adult services, said this was one of six steps to end child poverty. She explained, “Our ultimate goal is to promote self-sufficiency and family stability and reduce involvement with the juvenile justice system.”

Faith in the program 

Callejas continued, “When over 50% of foster youth exit into homelessness, we are feeding into our homeless population, which is not something we can afford to do.” The program’s success will be carefully monitored, and the data will help assign “money in ways that we think can have the most impact.” 

Addressing concerns 

Callejas commented, “There’s a lot of concern of ‘What if they blow the money?'” She assured, “Well, that’s not what all these pilots are showing.” There are 150 similar pilot programs across the US. 

Other regions have similar programs 

According to data from other countries, many families use the help for food and rent. The Baltimore Young Families Success Fund gives $1000 monthly, and they confirmed to Insider that recipients use this money for necessities. Austin officials gave $1,000 monthly from May 2022 to August 2023 to boost housing rates.  

Sacramento’s program to start in July 

The program will begin in July 2024 and last for 12 months. Initially, it will support 200 families with children aged up to 5 years old, though if successful, it will continue expanding. The chosen areas include parts of Valley Hi, Florin, North Sacramento, Del Paso Heights, and Arden-Arcade. 

High rates of poverty

Callejas elaborated, “These are families that are living within high rates of poverty across all the zip codes,” adding, “In this case, African American and Native American children zero to five and their families are most disproportionately impacted by the child welfare system.”

Choosing families 

First, family eligibility has to be confirmed. After that, they will be randomly picked. The DCFAS worked with other areas and counties that implemented similar programs to develop the plan for Sacramento County. 

Investing in children 

“Investing in children early is the best bet we can make, and it pays off for all of us—not just in terms of the government but in terms of you and me not experiencing the problems of homelessness on the streets or crime,” said Dr. Steve Wirtz, a Development Psychologist, and Commissioner with First 5 Sacramento. 

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