Methods: To assess the policy impacts on parents’ saving behaviors and child developmental processes and outcomes, the research team employed a panel survey design to collect data from low-income families with children. The baseline survey data (Wave 1) were collected in 2019. The sample included 786 parents or legal guardians of children randomly selected from those who opened accounts for their children, and 168 from those who did not open the account during the policy’s first year of implementation. Face-to-face interviews were conducted by social workers to gather data on the family economic conditions, employment status, parents' working conditions, parents' feelings of optimism and depression, educational expectations for their children, and administrative information. The Wave 2 data will be collected in 2023.
Results: Since its launch in 2017, approximately 60% (N = 26,726) of eligible children (N = 44,627) had opened an account by the end of 2022. Analyses of the baseline survey data indicated no significant group differences between the account holders and non-holders in terms of economic difficulties, employment status, parenting stress, parental expectation for their children, and parent-child relationships. It suggested that there were no differences in the baseline conditions between families that had an account and those that had not. However, parents who have not yet opened an account reported higher levels of depressive mood and poorer self-concept. Additionally, these parents perceived their economic conditions as poorer than those who had already opened an account.
Conclusions and Implications: The analyses indicated that overall, the program had a high participation rate; however, almost 40% of eligible families had not yet opened an account. Additional policy outreach efforts are needed to encourage program participation. The baseline data collected in the first year of the program implementation provided a foundation for further evaluation of policy impacts using the follow-up data. This highlights the importance of collecting longitudinal and follow-up data from program participants. As the Wave 2 data will be collected in 2023, we anticipate reporting preliminary analysis results on policy impacts on asset building, parenting practice, educational expectations, and child development outcomes at the 2024 SSWR conference.