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State Treasurer Erick Russell touts Baby Bonds program in New Haven

New Haven alderwoman Ellen Cupo holds Hana Feldman's baby during a press conference today.
Eddy Martinez
New Haven alderwoman Ellen Cupo holds Hana Feldman's baby during a press conference today.

Connecticut is the first state in the country to implement a Baby Bonds program, designed to close the wealth gap.

The program which is now in place is being touted by New Haven city officials and state Treasurer Erick Russell. The money, according to Russell, will essentially act as a trust fund for the working and middle class.

“What this is ultimately about is helping to build wealth. We know that the biggest indicator of someone's ability to build wealth over time is having some capital to start with,” Russell said.

Tuesday, at Yale New Haven Hospital, Russell spoke about the program’s benefits alongside Mayor Justin Elicker and New Haven resident Hana Feldman. Feldman gave birth roughly two weeks ago and her daughter Eva will be a beneficiary of the program.

The Baby Bonds program is a pioneering one using state money to combat generational poverty. State and local officials praised the efforts despite the program previously facing internal opposition from Gov. Ned Lamont’s office, according to previous reporting from CT Mirror.

Children whose birth was covered by HUSKY, the state’s medicaid program, will receive $3,200 from the state. The funds will be held by the state treasurer’s office and will accrue interest until the recipient is 18 years old. Parents do not need to register, since babies who meet the qualifications will be automatically enrolled. Recipients can claim the money once they are at least 18.

Feldman stood alongside Russell with a stroller holding baby Eva. She occasionally peered into the stroller as Russell spoke, Eva’s cries punctuated Russell’s comments.

Feldman only learned of the program a short time ago.

“My sister actually texted me, I want to say a week before she was born, and was just telling me that she qualified for a little bit of money when she was born, for when she turns 18,” Feldman said.

The program saw widespread support when it was first supposed to be implemented in 2021, but the rollout was delayed over cost concerns.

U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., who also spoke at the event, said the cost of child poverty was immense and praised the program.

“Child poverty costs the United States more than $1 trillion every single year. And that we know by investing in kids directly, we can break that cycle of poverty for generations to come,” DeLauro said.

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