Nearly 50 scholars, educators, researchers and macro social work practitioners met in January in Washington, D.C., for the convening on Financial Capability & Asset Building: Moving Forward. The event featured four experts from federal government and academia who spoke about policy, research and funding. Participants heard presentations from the following:
- Daniel Dodd-Ramirez, assistant director of the Financial Empowerment/Consumer Education and Engagement Division at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). He talked about recent research and emerging areas in CFPB, the role of social services and social work, and how social work research can inform CFPB’s work.
- Judi Ward Dekle, senior program analyst at the Military Community & Family Policy, Office of Family Readiness Policy, U.S. Department of Defense. She discussed emerging issues in financial readiness among military families and financial readiness services, along with opportunities for funding and collaborative work, research and service.
- Jeannie Chaffin, director of the Office of Community Services at the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She gave an overview of ACF programs, including the Assets for Independence program, and explained how financial capability can strengthen mainstream government programs, how financial capability interventions aid in employment, health and other outcomes, and offered suggestions for timely research topics and potential funding.
- J. Michael Collins, director of the Center for Financial Security/University of Wisconsin, Madison, and associate professor at the La Follette School of Public Affairs and at the School of Human Ecology. Collins discussed measurement, funding and conceptualization in financial capability and financial coaching and provided guidance to social workers on research and shared interests.
The convening also featured a panel with all speakers, moderated by Michael Sherraden, founding director of the Center for Social Development (CSD) at the Brown School, Washington University in St. Louis, and Richard Barth, dean of and professor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work.
The Washington meeting followed the April 2015 convening on Financial Capability& Asset Building: Advancing Education, Research, and Practice in Social Work in St. Louis. Both events were co-sponsored by the Center for Social Development at the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Maryland School of Social Work/Financial Social Work Initiative.
The convening provided a segue to the official launch of the Grand Challenges for Social Work at the Society for Social Work and Research 20th Annual Conference, also in Washington, D.C. Led by the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare, the Grand Challenges for Social Work is an initiative to champion social progress powered by science. “Build financial capability for all” is one of the 12 Grand Challenges. Financial Capability and Asset Building for All was among the academic papers presented at that conference.
New FCAB class
In other FCAB news, the Brown School is offering its first FCAB course, “Helping low-income clients navigate household finances,” from February 26 to March 31. Seventeen students have registered for this inaugural, one-credit course. The FCAB curriculum is being taught in 19 schools of social work, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges, Hispanic-serving institutions and primarily white institutions, both public and private. Gena McClendon and Lissa Johnson will teach the course at the Brown School. McClendon is a CSD project director and co-director of Financial Capability & Asset Building. Johnson is CSD director of administration.