Asset development among young adults is imperative and can be linked to better education, housing, and employment outcomes. However, Black, Indigenous, and low-income children and youth are overrepresented in the foster care population and the unbanked population, indicating that foster youth experience considerable barriers to asset development. One avenue to asset development is access to traditional banking services. Ninety-five percent of households in the United states are banked, which allows gaining financial independence easier for many people (FDIC, 2019). However, access to traditional banking services varies drastically across the country due to systemic barriers, especially for youth in foster care. Unbanked families are more likely to be low-income, have low educational attainment, and be Black, Hispanic, or American Indian or Alaskan Native than banked families (FDIC, 2019). Banking behavior also changes based on when a person was introduced to mainstream banking, with young adults who were introduced to banking as teenagers being more likely to have a checking or savings account. While access to banking is a critical piece in asset development, it is not the only way to develop assets (e.g., retirement accounts, stocks, and bonds). Asset development is not distributed equitably across society with only 11% of low-income and 34% of racial minority households having a retirement account compared to 90% of the highest income households and 58% of White households (Bricker et al., 2012). Lack of access to asset development opportunities can hinder one’s financial trajectory.
Data come from the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative (JCYOI) restricted use dataset. The JCYOI serves young people ages 14-26 who have spent at least one day in foster care after their 14th birthday. JCYOI collects data from young people across 17 states every April and October, consistently achieving an 80% response rate. In April 2021, a subset of this data was made available to researchers for the first time. The current paper utilizes logistic regression to examine if young people who purchase assets experience better young adult outcomes (housing, educational attainment, employment) than their peers who do not purchase an asset. Our sample includes 1,624 young people.
Our sample was 68.7% female and 31.3% male with 30.6% identifying as Black, NH, 16.1% identifying as Hispanic, 10.0% identifying as multiracial, 34.7% identifying as White, and 8.6% identifying as a race other than White, Black, multiracial, or Hispanic. Approximately 24.7% of our sample purchased an asset.
When examining results of logistic regression, young people who purchased an asset were more likely to be employed (OR=1.44, P<.05) and have reliable transportation (OR=2.49, p<.000) when controlling for race/ethnicity, age, gender, foster care status, and outcome at prior survey. There was not a statistically significant relationship between asset purchasing and stable housing or school enrollment.
Asset development and financial literacy are key components to a successful transition to adulthood. However, for youth in foster care, access to banking and asset development can be limited. The authors will discuss practice, policy, and research implications on these findings.