DEARBORN, MI — Dearborn was awarded a $1 million grant to tackle child poverty and improve maternal and infant health across the city, according to city officials.

The initiative, titled Supporting Expectant and New Mothers in Dearborn (SENMD), is part of a larger effort led by Michigan Sen. Gary Peters to prioritize key local Michigan projects in the final federal government funding legislation.

In Dearborn, officials plan to use the money to help lift the city’s child poverty crisis, which shows 38 percent of Dearborn’s children live below the federal poverty line, according to U.S. Census data.

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That number is 12 percent higher than the city’s overall poverty rate (25 percent) and almost three times the state poverty rate, which sits at 13.5 percent, according to U.S. Census data.

City officials plan to work with national and state elected officials, as well as regional partners, to identify funding, programs and other methods to support expectant parents, new mothers and their infant children during the child’s first year. Officials say the first year of life is crucial for a child’s development and long-term health.

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“Poverty is not an accident; it is a deliberate policy choice. Childhood poverty is a moral abomination that devastates human health and potential. Uprooting poverty is foundational to our public health mission in Dearborn, and this award is a powerful endorsement of our commitment to people closest to the pain,” Dearborn’s Chief Public Health Officer Ali Abazeed said.

Dearborn’s use of federal grant dollars to support expectant families has been applauded by leading health experts, including Mona Hanna, who is the Associate Dean for Public Health at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine.

“Child poverty is not inevitable. The Dearborn Department of Public Health is leading the nation with its bold efforts to redefine the social contract and uplift kids and families. This funding will allow Dearborn to strategically invest in the health and well-being of our youngest babies and their families—an investment in all of us,” Hanna said.

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