Parental Well-Being Effects in Children's Savings Accounts Program
Methods: In fall of 2004, a total of N=790 study participants were interviewed through a computer assisted telephone interviewing for the baseline study. Of these, n=381 were assigned to the treatment condition and were offered the opportunity to open SEED accounts for their pre-school children, and n =409 were the comparison group. Parents in the treatment group received program social services aimed at helping them join SEED and open accounts. Of the n=381, n=235 (62%) decided to join the program by opening accounts while n=146 (38%) did not. Final surveys were completed in 2008. Structural equation modeling was used to test the measurement and structural invariances of the latent constructs across groups and measurement occasions.
Results: We established measurement invariance across groups and occasions, χ2 (1844, n=381) =4470, p < .001, RMSEA=.067(.065; .070), NNFI=0.88, CFI=0.88. Second, the omnibus test of both equal variances and covariances across time and groups was not significant, Δχ2 (24, n = 381) = 35.20, p >.05, indicating that parenting stress, personal mastery, and economic strain did not differ across either measurement occasion or group membership. Finally, only the latent mean of parenting stress at the first measurement occasion was significantly higher, Δχ2 (2, n = 381) = 28.30, p <.001, (at the .017 level; Bonferroni correction) from the latent mean of parenting stress at the second measurement occasion. The effect size was in the small to medium range (d = .25).
Conclusions and Implications: The mean invariance of economic strain is interesting because one would expect that those who opened accounts and were saving may have experienced more strain over time. The finding of limited program effects on parents’ well-being is not causal; it should not be linked exclusively to participation in the child savings accounts program. Macro and micro strategies that build the trust of lower-income families with financial institutions aimed at their welfare and that of their children may be critical in helping them join such accounts. Additional asset building research as a means to enhance well-being and reduce intergenerational poverty is needed.