Counting pennies key to poverty alleviation

May 08, 2018

To mark Financial Capability Month in April 2018, Forum Associate member the Center for Social Development (CSD), together with its event partner the Center for Household Financial Stability, held a major forum on how the social work sector may best support financially imperiled American families. Entitled “Coin a Better Future: Reaching Out to Financially Vulnerable Families”, the forum saw approximately 100 researchers, practitioners, policymakers and students gather at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St Louis, Missouri.

CSD has recently investigated just how much financial education is currently being taught to social workers around the country, and which financial topics social workers believe would benefit them most. Ninety-one percent of respondents agreed that “students would benefit from more financial or economic content than is currently being taught.” (See CSD’s full research report here).

According to the US Department of Labor, approximately 1.8 million social workers are on the frontlines of antipoverty work. In this context, better training in helping their clients deal with financial issues would deliver a clear and long-lasting win in poverty reduction. In fact, a 2015 study that measured the effects of financial coaching for low- to moderate-income families found that participants on annual incomes as low as $22,000 per annum achieved an average of $1,700 increase in savings, and more than $1,000 in debt reduction.

The critical take away from the forum was that each and every North American social worker should have a financial security tool, product or practice in their arsenal that meets their clients “where they’re at” and helps them do more with the limited resources they have.



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