Faculty Directors Huang, Jin are expanding the horizons of social work in mainland China.
On June 29, Faculty directors Jin Huang and Minchao Jin delivered keynote addresses at the 2022 Financial Literacy Education Forum in mainland China. Carried by state news agency Xinhua, Sina Weibo, Youku, and numerous other platforms, the event drew an audience of over 2.65 million viewers.
The convening centered on financial health and financial resilience, themes that have gained new significance as inclusive development and consumer protection have become greater national priorities. Both keynotes tied the event’s themes to the Center for Social Development’s financial social work engagements.
Huang and Jin are leaders in a broad collaboration to equip the mainland’s social workers with the financial capability required to offer clients basic financial guidance.
Huang is a professor in the Saint Louis University School of Social Work and research associate professor in the Brown School at Washington University. Jin is a clinical associate professor in the Silver School of Social Work at New York University and an affiliated assistant professor at NYU Shanghai.
Through the Center for Social Development’s Financial Capability and Asset Building initiative, both faculty directors are expanding the horizons of social work on the mainland.
“The profession is adapting to the complexities of the modern financial world,” said Huang. “Clients have always sought our guidance on personal finances, but financial technology, confusing credit products, and consumer fraud schemes are making decisions increasingly difficult for ordinary people, not to mention financially vulnerable ones.”
“We are training social workers to help vulnerable populations navigate this new world,” Huang said. His work, and that of other experts in the Center for Social Development, is guiding similar training projects in the United States, Singapore, and Africa. In China, the training is already well underway.
In late May, practitioners from 15 mainland social service agencies participated in a class on financial social work with vulnerable populations. Taught by Huang, the class included participants from agencies in 10 mainland provinces, including Sichuan, Chongqing, Guangxi, and others in southwest China.
The session is one of several offered through a program organized by the China Association of Social Workers, which plans to train 30,000 social workers on the mainland. Over 800 attended a similar class taught by Huang in January 2021 as part of a 22-session program the Center for Social Development helped to design and evaluate.
Jin said that the training “will improve social workers’ practice to support the financial health of vulnerable populations.”
He sees financial social work as means of empowering the rural families who have been subjects of his research. He conducted a study showing that financial capability – knowledge and access to appropriate financial services – is much lower in rural areas of China than in urban settings.
“Social workers can promote financial capacity for rural families in China through different ways of financial education,” Jin said, alluding to findings from his research into the various channels, formal and informal, by which people gain financial knowledge and capability.
In another sign of the profession’s evolution on the mainland, China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs is due to publish the first standards for financial social work. The new standards will become part of the National Social Work and Service Standards, a collection that provides guidance on services related to children, older adults, mental health, and other matters.
Huang advocated for the standards expansion, which followed calls from top mainland social workers for changes to embed financial social work in the profession’s education and professional development offerings.
“The new standards and the invitation to address the 2022 Financial Literacy Education Forum show how deeply our efforts have been recognized in China,” Huang said. “The financial sector in China has recognized the important roles that social work can play in promoting financial health and financial protection for vulnerable populations.”
Convened under the leadership of People’s Bank of China and the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, the June event was organized by the Protection Federation of Financial Consumption Rights and Interests of Guangdong, the Guangzhou branch of the People’s Bank, the Guangdong Financial Supervisory Authority, and the Shenzhen branch of the People’s Bank.
Visa China funded the June forum and the May training program, which also received support from the China Financial Education Foundation. For his role in both events, Huang received support from the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.
Video from the June 29 forum may be streamed on Youku. Huang’s address begins at 1:34, and Jin’s at 1:51. Visit the Center for Social Development’s website for more on the Financial Capability and Asset Building initiative’s work in China.