Abstract: Asset-Based Policy Diffusion in Post-Soviet Countries: Child Development Accounts for Azerbaijan (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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Asset-Based Policy Diffusion in Post-Soviet Countries: Child Development Accounts for Azerbaijan

Friday, January 13, 2023
Desert Sky, 3rd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Aytakin Huseynli, PhD, Postdoctoral Scholar, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO
Background: Azerbaijan like many other post-Soviet countries, is in the process of reforming its child well-being system after the political collapse in 1991. The situation of children has been improved considerably in recent years due to the country’s rapid economic growth. But there are still some worrying issues: two in five children are anemic, one in four children is stunted due to malnutrition, about 10,000 children live in outdated child care institutions which are left from the USSR and are detrimental to child development and children leaving care at age 18 remain impoverished, over 60,000 children are poor due disabilities, up to 4000 live and work in the street, about 500,000 live in severe poverty due to socio-economic constraints, and there is a large number of internally displaced children as the result of armed conflict with Armenia. Evidence demonstrates that Child Development Accounts (CDA) as an asset-based policy, contribute to improving the well-being of children. Thus, the purpose of this study was to find out about the plausibility and necessity of applying CDAs in Azerbaijan.

Methods: Qualitative studies such as needs assessment, developmental evaluation, and in-depth interviews were used to identify needs for CDAs, explore local conditions, and existing and potential resources for designing and adapting CDA policy for Azerbaijan. Data for this study were the primary data collected in 2017, 2018, and 2019. The sample size was 36 key informants such as ministers, deputy ministers, members of the national parliament, heads and deputy heads of departments in ministries and in the national natural resource fund, presidents and vice-presidents of universities including representatives of World Bank, Unicef, and local NGO’s). Thematic, content, and framework qualitative data analysis methods were used to analyze needs, issues, resources, and interpret desires and map for CDA’s in Azerbaijan.

Results: Five relevant themes emerged from the findings: 1) There is a wide acceptance of CDA’s, 2) willingness to launch CDA’s in coming years, 3) availability of potential resources, 4) efficient utilization of current resources by gearing them to CDA’s and 5) importance of strong institutional base for administering and managing CDA’s. Almost all participants showed huge interest in the concept of asset development for children and welcomed the idea of CDA. Existing funds such as some financial allowances for children can be geared to CDA’s as seed funds and natural resource wealth can be used as a potential fund for matching. The participants raised concerns about the lack of reliable banks, wealth management agencies, and investment organizations for administering and managing CDA.

Conclusions and Implications: Findings suggest several implications for further research and policy development for Azerbaijan. First father research is needed to find out a model for CDA’s in an environment with weak financial institutions and limited wealth management resources. Second, it is necessary to investigate insights of families to depict real needs for potential CDA’s. Third, further research is needed to find out how current available financial resources for children, which are not efficient for increasing child well-being, can be transferred to CDA’s.