Thousands of newborns already benefiting from 'Baby Bonds' program
Just six months after it launched, nearly 8,000 newborns are already enrolled in Connecticut's first-in-the-nation "Baby Bonds" investment program, state treasurer Erick Russell announced Wednesday.
Each child could walk away with a $24,000 nest egg when they turn 18.
"A LEG UP IN LIFE"
Connecticut Baby Bonds automatically enrolls any child born under Connecticut's HUSKY Medicaid program. Each child gets an initial $3,200 investment, which Russell estimates will grow to up to $24,000 by adulthood.
"Parents do not need to enroll or apply for Connecticut Baby Bonds. Eligibility is automatic," he said. "And those resources can be used for initiatives like purchasing a home here in Connecticut, starting or investing in a Connecticut business, helping to pay for post-secondary education or job training."
Russell made the announcement at The Bridge Family Center in West Hartford, where 80% of children live below the poverty line.
"This particular program will give them a leg up in life," said executive director Margaret Hann.
Since Baby Bonds launched in July, 7,810 children have been born into the program. A third of them are concentrated in Bridgeport, Norwalk, Stamford, Waterbury and New Haven. But it's not just larger cities; state officials stressed that all but four towns have children enrolled.
The state treasurer's office is working with hospitals and the Connecticut Department of Public Health to get the word out to parents.
"WE CAN'T AFFORD THAT"
Georgina Rivera is the principal at Charter Oak International Academy. When she took her students to visit colleges, they'd walk away disappointed.
"When we'd come back, one of the things they always said to be was, 'Well, but, Mrs. Rivera, we can't afford that,'" she said.
Enrollees can submit a claim for their money between the ages of 18 and 30. But they must live in Connecticut at the time they collect.
The money can be used to pay for in-state college tuition, to buy a house in Connecticut or to start a business here. Rivera believes it will be a game-changer for her students.
"Instead of me saying, 'You can hope for a scholarship, or you can work really hard and maybe you'll get that scholarship,' this now provides an opportunity for them to invest in a business, to invest in college," she said.
ALMOST DIDN'T HAPPEN
Connecticut Baby Bonds almost didn't happen. It was delayed for two years after Gov. Ned Lamont refused to borrow millions of dollars to pay for it.
"I did say, 'Look, I don't want to do something that's going to saddle taxpayers with $200 million in interest," Lamont said in May 2023. "I don't think that's the way to do it."
But the program finally launched last summer after Russell discovered $400 million in an unused bond surety account.
Since August, Russell said the Baby Bonds account has already grown by $4 million. But the program is only funded for the next 12 years. To keep it going beyond that point, Russell said more money will probably be needed.