Guest Author - Joyce Orzak
A relatively new pro-life method crisis pregnancy centers are using to encourage expectant mothers is the “cash to learn” program. In these programs, pregnant women learn basic life skills and are given cash or vouchers to spend on baby and maternity items. Here are some of the basic details; keep in mind though that this isn’t a universal program, so there are variations on the concept in individual crisis pregnancy centers.
The women who participate in cash to learn programs are more likely to be young, first-time mothers from urban areas. This demographic will change as the program gains popularity and is implemented across suburban and rural neighborhoods. The women often come from single parent households, where basic life skills were a survival method learned in childhood, not something taught by a mentoring adult.
Basic life skills are the core of the program. The expectant mother will be taught basic child development for the first year of the child’s life, what to expect when she brings the baby home from the hospital, and be given simple tutorials for dealing with common problems. Nutrition advice is given for both mother and baby, and referrals are made to local WIC and food bank programs. Child and infant CPR certification is available in many of these programs. Counseling with the expectant mother is usually done in tandem with the life-skill classes
More often than not, the “cash” is given in the form of vouchers or gift certificates for local participating stores. The vouchers can be for anything from baby food and diapers at Toys"R"Us to baby apparel and car seats from the pregnancy center’s gently used items closet. The vouchers are traditionally given out in draws, when each segment of parenting class is completed.
Cash to learn programs aim to reduce abortion by giving young women the confidence and skills to safely and lovingly raise their child. This helps to reduce child abuse, accidents, malnutrition, and it increases the mother’s self-sufficiency in parenting.