Integrating Financial Capability and Employment Services

Background

OPRE, with MEF Associates and the Urban Institute, are conducting this study to better understand financial capability interventions delivered in the context of employment and training (E&T) programs serving low-income individuals.

Research links financial capability to important outcomes for low-income households, but financial capability levels are low, on average, among low-income individuals. Financial capability interventions such as financial education, coaching, and counseling, intend to improve economic outcomes by building financial skills, knowledge, and self-efficacy, as well as expanding access to resources and opportunities to promote positive financial behaviors. E&T programs provide opportunities to deliver these interventions, but there is currently little evidence on the effectiveness of this channel.

This study aims to build more evidence for policymakers and practitioners about the extent, forms, and practices of incorporating financial capability interventions into E&T programs serving low-income adult populations. This study also aims to help establish a basis for research and evaluation in this area.

Research Questions

  1. To what extent are employment coaching or training programs incorporating financial capability training?
  2. Why are they incorporating financial capability training? What factors, including any state or local policies, drive this decision?
  3. What are the key inputs, activities, and outputs of financial capability trainings as implemented in employment and training programs?
  4. What are the efforts to evaluate financial capability training in employment and training contexts to date?
  5. What are the research gaps in these areas and options for future research and evaluation efforts to address them?

Study Components

OPRE has released two briefs (links below) from the study, one on previous literature on the effectiveness of financial capability interventions and what is known about efforts to deliver such interventions through E&T programs, and the other on the design, administration, and financial and nonfinancial benefits of the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Drawing on consultations conducted with policymakers, practitioners, and researchers early in the study, future activities will include:

  • An online survey of up to 70 diverse E&T programs that offer financial capability services to low-income adults to document high level characteristics of financial capability interventions they deliver.
  • Phone interviews with program administrators of up to 15 E&T programs. The interviews will build on the survey to collect more in-depth information on how a variety of programs implement financial capability interventions.
  • Virtual site visits with four E&T programs for more in-depth information collection, including interviews with program administrators, staff, and partners involved with the programs.
  • Interviews with participants of four E&T programs to learn about their experiences with financial capability services.
  • Program administrator focus groups with two groups of E&T administrators to discuss promising practices and approaches to addressing challenges in implementing financial capability interventions.
  • Employer interviews with up to ten employer-based financial capability programs for low-income adults.

Point(s) of Contact: For more information, please reach out to OPRE’s points of contact for this project, Lisa Zingman and Emily Ross, or MEF Associates’ Project Director, Sam Elkin.

Related Resources

This brief looks at research on the integration of E&T services and financial capability interventions and their effects on economic outcomes for adults with low incomes.

This brief reviews the design and administration of the EITC and summarizes the literature on the EITC’s effects on work, wages, poverty, financial stability, and other nonfinancial benefits, giving special attention to the way program outcomes might depend on or relate to payment timing. The authors discuss how changing the EITC’s payment structures may affect recipients and how the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) carries out the EITC to highlight important considerations and possible trade-offs. The brief identifies areas where additional research is needed to better understand these relationships and trade-offs related to payment timing.