The Facts: The Baby Care Assistance Initiative is a grant of $500 designed to assist underprivileged parents in providing adequate nutrition and care to an infant (0-12 months old). The grant may be paid for a maximum period of 1 year per infant during the period of the project (October 2014 to September 2015). Parents and or primary caregivers with a combined monthly income of three thousand dollars ($3000) or less with a child born during the period October 1, 2014 ? September 30, 2015 are eligible for this grant. The $500 monthly baby care grant will be expanded to include single fathers. [Sources: Trinidad Express, ttonline] While I commend the PM on creating this initiative, I have to say this is greatly flawed. Examples: The PM said she was inspired by news of a mother stealing a tin of formula. A lot of mothers are misinformed about breast milk vs. formula milk. Perhaps including education on this matter as part of pregnancy care in both private and public health facilities can provide some assistance. The vast majority of women are able to exclusively breastfeed their children and are incorrectly pressured by friends, family etc to give their children formula milk to replace or supplement perfectly available breast milk unnecessarily. Formula is great for the minority of women that cannot breastfeed, for babies with clefts and other similar issues etc. but in many cases, the money spent on formula and accessories in unnecessary and is enforced because many do not know better. If it is necessary, why can't hospitals supply it directly to better monitor and ensure it is being given and used? For low income families, parents must provide for themselves as well. Chances are, families that do no use or understand birth control will keep having children they cannot care for. A $500 allowance will not help much for them, especially only for a year. Children continue growing and their needs are greater after the first year. What happens when a starving mother has to choose between buying milk and diapers or buying food for the whole family? What happens to those families after the child's first birthday, when the child has even more needs? Unless this money is given in the form of specified checks or smart cards, there's no guarantee that the money will be used for new babies. What happens when an alcoholic parent or drug addict relative finds a way to turn the grant into a source for their next bottle of rum? In Trinidad, mothers have to supply their own hospital necessities. To give birth in a public hospital, the list is even more extensive and the hospital staff usually confiscates any items that are not used from the mother's bag. The first grant allowance might be used to cover or repay those expenses, setting a way of living in debt/on credit in motion, forcing the child's continuous needs to take a backseat. I would suggest that the PM incorporate some foreign practices here. To really make a difference, child assistance should begin from the fetal stage and continue until the child is old enough for school at least. In the U.S. there is a W.I.C. program that issues specified checks to expectant mothers covering basic grocery items to ensure the mother meets some, if not all of her nutritional needs to give the unborn child a healthy foundation. Once the child is born, this extends to the child's needs until the age of 5. There is also a benefit card lasting close to the same time for mothers in need (one per child) that can be used for groceries as well or cashed at ATMS for clothing, diapers, etc (which is the hope!). In many countries, wellness check ups are mandatory through the pregnancy and after the child is born. Both the mother's and the child's health are prioritized. This ensures both mother and child are healthy and meeting nutritional guidelines and gives practitioners a chance to see if any mothers are in need and require case workers, public assistance etc. After birth, mothers are required to come back for their own health check ups and their newborn babies repeatedly. This greatly cuts down on undetected infections or post birth complications, and can identify any health conditions that require attention and or assistance with medication, treatment etc. There are many more mandatory wellness checkups that continue throughout the child's life into adulthood. At each check up the child is given vaccines, checked for illness etc. and seen by a doctor that does a thorough check of the child's health, gives information and answers any questions, etc. In many countries, mothers giving birth are given diapers, blankets, hats, formula, etc. in the hospital. Lactation consultants are available to assist mothers breastfeeding and educate them on what they need to know with regards to this. I think giving new low income mothers these things instead of expecting them to buy such items on their own will help more in preparing them. In addition to introducing programs that cover prenatal and infant nutrition this can make more of a difference. Most importantly IMO, the public is not educated on a great deal of relevant matters. While this can come in handy for dedicated low income parents, many will misuse the grant. I think we should make the relevant knowledge public information and easily accessible. Health facilities can incorporate these things into their protocols and make more of a difference this way as well. What do you think about this? Are you in support of this grant?