Courtesy of CFED
By Office of Community Services Staff
The mission of the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) is to foster health and well-being by funding well-designed programs and working as partners with state and community organizations for the effective delivery of human services. One strategy that we are using to support this mission is to encourage the integration of financial capability1 services into social service programs.
As we near the end of this year’s National Financial Capability Month, we are taking two days to highlight what we are doing here at ACF to foster this work. In this blog, we provide an overview of our efforts. Tomorrow, we will focus on what this work looks like at the local level, featuring examples from several organizations.
You may be asking, “What are financial capability services?” Financial education, credit counseling, and matched savings accounts2 are examples of financial capability services, but there are many more. To learn about 10 common financial capability services, check out About Financial Capability Services.
We heard from organizations that wanted to offer these services to clients in their programs, but they were not sure how to get started. To help, we released Building Financial Capability: A Planning Guide for Integrated Services (the Guide) last year. The Guide provides practical tools for developing a plan to integrate financial capability services into an existing program.
The field has received the Guide with excitement! More than 1,500 people registered for webinars about the Guide from April to December 2015. We also have had more than 3,200 hits for the Guide from our website. Additionally, our partner the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) organized hands-on workshops across the U.S.
We created a series of five short training videos to provide tips for using the resources in the Guide. We also partnered with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration on a webcast series. These resources are a great place to get started if you want to learn more.
We are also working with CFED to provide technical assistance to organizations as they use the Guide. For example, we are currently working with three local United Ways. We expect to learn along with these organizations, and we will develop additional resources for the field based on what we learn.
1. Financial capability is the capacity, based on knowledge, skills, and access, to manage financial resources effectively.
2. One type of matched savings account is an Individual Development Account (IDA). The Assets for Independence (AFI) program funds eligible organizations to implement projects that provide IDAs to eligible individuals. Participants open an IDA and save earned income that is matched by project funds. The combined participant savings and project matching funds will be used for an allowable asset: a first home, a business, or post-secondary education or training. Projects also assist participants in obtaining the skills and information necessary to achieve economic self-sufficiency. Grantees are encouraged to tailor the strategies and services they offer to the needs of their project participants and the opportunities in their community. Examples of activities in this area include financial education, asset-specific training, financial coaching, credit-building services, credit/debt counseling, and assistance with tax credits and tax preparation. If you’re interested in offering AFI IDAs, visit the AFI Resource Center and learn how to apply for an AFI grant.
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