Abstract: What about Money? Coverage and Gaps in Financial Capability and Asset Building (FCAB) Topics in Social Work Education (Society for Social Work and Research 23rd Annual Conference - Ending Gender Based, Family and Community Violence)

What about Money? Coverage and Gaps in Financial Capability and Asset Building (FCAB) Topics in Social Work Education

Sunday, January 20, 2019: 1:00 PM
Golden Gate 4, Lobby Level (Hilton San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Sally Hageman, MSW, Research Assistant Professor, University of Maryland at Baltimore, Baltimore, MD
Vernon Loke, PhD, Associate Professor, Eastern Washington University, Cheney, WA
Jin Huang, PhD, Associate Professor, Saint Louis University, Saint Louis, MO
Lissa Johnson, MSW, Director of Administration, Washington University in Saint Louis, St. Louis, MO
Margaret Sherraden, PhD, Research Associate Professor, Washington University in Saint Louis, St Louis
Julie Birkenmaier, PhD, Professor, Saint Louis University, MO
Background and Purpose: While studies suggest the importance of including additional FCAB content in social work education, little is known about FCAB content currently covered in accredited programs. Initiatives to provide FCAB curriculum content must be built from the foundation of current content. This study assesses the extent to which FCAB topics are currently included in social work education.

Methods: 7,642 faculty members from 571 CSWE accredited social work programs who taught and/or were currently teaching social work classes in August 2016 were invited by email to complete an online survey. 1,577 faculty members responded to the survey between August 2016 and May 2017. Respondents answered whether they covered any of 23 FCAB items on specific topics in their classes in three domains: (1) financial products and services; (2) public policies and programs; and (3) practice in financial management. These three domains included items relating to banks products and services, credit reporting, government assistance programs, and discussing personal financial topics with clients. The response categories for the items include “Never (0),” “A Little (1),” “Some (2),” and “A Lot (3)”. Based on the 23 items, three aggregate measures were created. The first measure (1=yes, 0=no) assesses whether a respondent covers FCAB topics in any of their classes. The second measure assesses how many items the respondent taught on a scale of 0 to 23. The third measure is the sum of the 23 topics ranging from 0 to 69 and yields the total amount of FCAB topics covered in the respondents’ classes. Poisson, logit and OLC regression analyses were used to predict how much each FCAB measure was covered, controlling for faculty and school characteristics.

Results: The data indicate that about 54% of respondents included at least one FCAB topic in their classes. However, the coverage of FCAB topics is uneven across the three domains. Topics on financial products and services are least likely to be covered, with some topics being barely covered, e.g., less than 4% of classes included any information on credit reports. Across three regression analyses, the coverage of FCAB content is positively and statistically associated with respondents’ financial education experiences, their perception of the usefulness of the specific FCAB topic, whether the program offers a BSW degree, and negatively related to the size of the program. The coverage of FCAB topics may be related to perceived usefulness of learning these topics: while 91% of respondents believe FCAB topics are useful in general, on average, fewer (74%) consider that knowing about financial services is important. For instance, the gap between perceived usefulness and reported coverage on credit reports is 55%, and the gap for problem debt is 48%.

Conclusions and implications: Given the growing importance of integrating financial services in social work practice, the gaps between coverage of FCAB topics, and between perceived usefulness and coverage pose a challenge for social work education. Suggestions for teaching about financial products and services content will be offered.