For many families, income tax preparation is a challenge as they try to navigate a complicated system. As a result, they often do not receive the tax benefits they are entitled. Many other similar cash and wealth-building opportunities go similarly unused, including 529 College Savings Accounts, Massachusetts’s Paid Family and Medical Leave, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP or food stamps). StreetCred is an innovative program established at Boston Medical Center that offers a bundle of economic services to families with infants receiving pediatric care at BMC. Financial Navigators meet with families at all seven well-child visits in the first year of life. Data show accessing these economic tools is associated with better health for parents and children but that they are underutilized. Redesigning pediatric care- which reaches 90% of children each year - to include economic well-being holds significant potential to break down barriers and to improve health equity.
Based out of the Department of Pediatrics, the service functions as a solution to the financial burden a significant portion of BMC patients face from living with annual incomes below the federal poverty level. "It's truly a hospital-wide effort - from our amazing volunteer tax preparers to the clinic staff referring patients to HR, Legal, Communications and Development providing operations support”, says co-founder and BMC pediatrician Lucy Marcil, MD MPH. “StreetCred embodies the reason I work at BMC: vibrant, smart people working together toward one goal - empowering our patients to live healthier lives with better futures." By helping families receive appropriate tax credits and other economic services, the goal is to improve the overall well-being of the family's health through poverty reduction. By achieving greater financial stability, families and their children have higher participation in their pediatric care and lower toxic stress. Since 2016, StreetCred has returned over $14 million to more than 6,000 families.
For more information, please visit www.mystreetcred.org.
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