Session: Financial Capability Interventions (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

137 Financial Capability Interventions

Friday, January 17, 2020: 3:45 PM-5:15 PM
Marquis BR Salon 7, ML 2 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
Cluster: Inequality, Poverty, and Social Welfare Policy (IP&SWP)
Symposium Organizer:
Julie Birkenmaier, PhD, Saint Louis University
The Financial Capability and Asset Building for All Grand Challenge is a call to arms for the social work profession (Sherraden, et al., 2015). As this Grand Challenge points out, low- and moderate-income (LMI) households have more financial decisions to make than ever, and they must make these decisions with fewer institutionalized supports and guidance than in past generations. The financial decisions made by these households have taken on greater significance as well. Growing financial precariousness in U.S. households in the financial bottom half of the population (Pew Charitable Trust, 2015), combined with growing number and use of financial products (Demos, 2014) means the financial decisions these households are more complicated and have higher consequences for them. Thus, social workers in contact with these populations must be prepared to provide effective interventions.

Achieving this Grand Challenge will require extensive social work efforts to work in interdisciplinary teams. In addition to policy advocacy, innovative practice interventions must provide unbiased financial advice and guidance to products and services and financial management that grow income and build wealth. Social work must also build evidence for interventions that effectively benefit LMI households. These interventions can be targeted in a number of ways, including sharpening clients' financial management skills, and guiding clients toward opportunities to retain more of their earned income. Research is needed to gauge the effectiveness of current financial capability intervention toward building evidence-based practice in financial capability interventions, which are now integral to social work practice (Sherraden, 2013, 2015).

This symposium reports on research regarding efforts to provide financial capability interventions for LMI populations. The first paper by Despard, Zeng, and Fox-Dichter, reports an assessment of the effectiveness of workplace financial counseling and coaching among LMI workers. Their findings suggest that workplace financial coaching may be an important element of the credit health of LMI employees. The second paper by Frank-Miller, Fox-Dichter and Wolter uses a unique dataset to illuminate LMI parents' participation in employer-sponsored, tax-advantaged child care subsidy programs (Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts). Their findings suggest that more efforts are needed to provide families with needed resources to help them afford high quality child care. The third paper by Birkenmaier, Kim, and Maynard, examines and synthesize the evidence of financial capability interventions across various methods of delivery. The interventions aim to increase financial knowledge and financial access through various combination methods. Results suggest that, to determine effectiveness of the approach, more rigorous evidence is needed on the effectiveness of financial capability interventions using strong methodology and structured/manualized protocol.

* noted as presenting author
Workplace Financial Coaching: Credit Outcomes Among Lower-Paid, Entry-Level Workers
Mathieu Despard, PhD, Washington University in Saint Louis; Yingying Zeng, MSW, Washington University in Saint Louis; Sophia Fox-Dichter, MSW, Washington University in Saint Louis
Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account Participation Among Low- and Moderate-Income Parents: Barriers and Risks
Ellen Frank-Miller, PhD, Washington University in Saint Louis; Sophia Fox-Dichter, MSW, Washington University in Saint Louis; Sloane Wolter, BA, Washington University in Saint Louis
Are Financial Capability Interventions Effective? a Systematic Review
Julie Birkenmaier, PhD, Saint Louis University; Youngmi Kim, PhD, Virginia Commonwealth University; Brandy Maynard, PhD, Saint Louis University
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