2019 News

CSD leaders suggest next step for Taiwan’s Child Development Accounts

From left, Professors Jin Huang, Li-chen Cheng, Margaret Sherraden, Michael Sherraden, Taiwan Vice President Chen Chien-jen, Minister without Portfolio Lin Wan-i, Secretary General of the Ministry of Health and Welfare Cheng Shun-ping, and Senior Executive Officer of the Department of Social Assistance and Social Work, Ministry of Health and Welfare Wang Yen-chin.

Experts from the Center for Social Development (CSD) traveled to Asia in mid-April to advise Taiwanese leaders about social policy and social work education.

Regarding social policy, they met with Taiwan Vice President Chen Chien-jen and Minister Without Portfolio Lin Wan-i to suggest strategies for improving the newly enacted Child Development Accounts (CDAs) in Taiwan, named Savings Accounts for the Education and Development of Children and Teenagers. (Last year, the government adopted the policy based on years of testing, research and evidence in Taiwan.)

CSD Director Michael Sherraden, the George Warren Brown Distinguished University Professor, Research Professor Margaret Sherraden and Research Associate Professor Jin Huang met the vice president and minister, along with other officials at the Presidential Office Building in Taipei.

They discussed evidence from CDA research in the United States and how it might inform Taiwan to change its CDAs from an “opt-in” policy to “opt-out,” Michael Sherraden said. Research results indicate the change would boost the participation rate from the current 45% to nearly 100%. The Taiwan officials were aware of the policy issues and supportive of the change to “opt out.”

“This is an excellent example of moving policy research data to positive social action, even across national borders,” Sherraden said. Research evidence from the SEED for Oklahoma Kids experiment is instrumental in policy change in Taiwan, he pointed out.

Professor Cheng has led the research in Taiwan. She earned her PhD from the Brown School and received a Brown School Distinguished Alumni Award in 2015. Cheng is a leader in asset-building programs for poor families and youth in Taiwan. CSD has worked with Cheng and Taiwanese officials on CDA research and policy over the past two decades.

In addition to providing policy guidance, Professors Margaret Sherraden and Jin Huang consulted with social work leadership from National Taiwan University (NTU) and Fu-Jen Catholic University. Their topic was training social workers in Financial Capability and Asset Building (FCAB). Huang and Sherraden are leaders in the U.S. national network for FCAB, and increasingly they advise and provide curriculum resources in other countries, including recently in mainland China.

Professors Sherraden, Sherraden, and Huang also headlined the conference “Innovation and Evaluation for Anti-Poverty Initiatives” April 11-12 at National Taiwan University.

In addition, they met with Washington University (WU) Professor Emeritus David Ho, the McDonnell International Scholars Academy ambassador to NTU, for a planning session on building the important WU-NTU partnership.