Abstract: The Long-Term Impacts of Child Development Accounts on Parental Educational Expectations and College Preparation (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

All in-person and virtual presentations are in Mountain Standard Time Zone (MST).

SSWR 2023 Poster Gallery: as a registered in-person and virtual attendee, you have access to the virtual Poster Gallery which includes only the posters that elected to present virtually. The rest of the posters are presented in-person in the Poster/Exhibit Hall located in Phoenix A/B, 3rd floor. The access to the Poster Gallery will be available via the virtual conference platform the week of January 9. You will receive an email with instructions how to access the virtual conference platform.

The Long-Term Impacts of Child Development Accounts on Parental Educational Expectations and College Preparation

Friday, January 13, 2023
Hospitality 4 - Room 428, 4th Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Sicong Sun, PhD, MSW, Assistant Professor, The University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS
Jin Huang, PhD, Professor, Saint Louis University
Mark Schreiner, PhD, Senior Scholar, Washington University in Saint Louis, St. Louis, MO
Margaret Clancy, MSW, Policy Director, Washington University in Saint Louis, Saint Louis, MO
Michael Sherraden, PhD, George Warren Brown Distinguished University Professor, founder and director, Washington University in Saint Louis, St. Louis, MO
Background and Objective: Parental expectations and preparation for their children’s postsecondary education have positive effects on children’s academic performance, educational attainment, and healthy development. Studies have documented that Child Development Accounts (CDAs) have positive impacts on early educational outcomes. This study investigates longer-term impacts of CDAs on parental educational expectations and college preparation.

Methods: Data are drawn from the Wave 3 survey of the SEED for Oklahoma Kids experiment (SEED OK). Parental educational expectations are measured by a 5-level Likert question “How far in school do you think that your child will go?” Based on the descriptive distribution of this variable, we create two dummy variables: a) whether the parent expected their child to go to graduate school at Wave 3 (1= graduate school and 0=below graduate school), and b) whether the parent maintained their educational expectations at the graduate school level since wave 1 (1=maintain at the graduate level and 0=otherwise). College preparation is a latent variable measured by five ordinal indicators. We asked the five questions regarding planning for the child’s education or training after high school, with responses ranging from strongly disagree to strongly agree. The key independent variable is the treatment group status. Control variables include demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of the child, mother, and household. Binary logistic regressions were used to assess parental educational expectations, and Structural Equation Models (SEM) were used to evaluate college preparation. We performed two sets of analyses using the pre-COVID sample (n = 626) and the whole sample (n =1,556). With directional hypotheses, we apply one-tailed statistical tests and set significance at the .10 level.

Results: At Wave 3, in the pre-COVID sample, mothers in the treatment group were more likely to expect their children to attend graduate school than those in the control group (OR = 1.37, p = 0.07). Furthermore, mothers in the treatment group have greater odds of maintaining the same levels of educational expectations between Wave 1 and Wave 3 (Pre-COVID: OR = 1.41, p = 0.08; Whole sample: OR = 1.27, p = 0.07). Results from the SEM models have a reasonable fit to the data [CFI = 0.97, TLI = 0.96, RMSEA = 0.05 (90% CI: 0.04–0.05)]. Moreover, we find that the CDAs have a positive effect on college preparation (pre-COVID: b = 0.09, p = 0.02; Whole sample: b = 0.04, p = 0.08). Analyses stratified by racial groups suggest that CDAs have larger effects on educational expectations for Black mothers, and greater impacts on college preparation for White mothers.

Conclusion and Implications: The study finds that CDAs have positive long-term impacts on parental educational expectations and college preparation. Over a 13-year span, mothers in the treatment group were more likely to form and maintain educational expectations and prepare for children’s college education. Findings inform social work practitioners and policy makers to incorporate SEED OK’s universal, automatic, and progressive model in asset-building policies for education.