With just two Social Work Grand Challenges to go, we’re in the home stretch. Get pumped up and ready to take action, because the November challenge is an important one! This month, we’ll be focusing on helping Americans of all income levels develop more stable finances.
November Grand Challenge:
Grand Challenge #11: Build Financial Capability For All
How much money do you have saved up in case of an emergency like being laid off from your job? If you have fewer than three months’ savings, you like many Americans are considered financially insecure. Many Americans at all income brackets, from impoverished to the wealthy, are living paycheck to paycheck. The AASWSW is asking social workers to partner with them to help make all Americans more financially secure.
Along with lacking financial security, many Americans lack the basic financial savvy they need to build wealth. The AASWSW reports that this prevents American families from claiming the financial benefits they deserve, ranging from tax credits to college financial aid to choosing the correct savings account. Poor financial resourcefulness also makes it easier to become a victim of a financial scam. Underrepresented minorities, poor Americans, and the elderly are groups that are at particularly high risk.
The AASWSW encourages social workers to continue working with policy groups and individual clients, to ensure the government creates further programs that help Americans at all income levels save. Some of the policies they suggest we advocate to implement include:
Improving financial inclusion. At the lower income levels, many Americans don’t have the opportunity to open a bank account. Often, they don’t meet the minimum balance banks require, getting hit by fees, or even lack the basic financial literacy to open an account. Low earners need greater access to accounts and support in opening them.
Create lifelong accounts. The AASWSW strongly supports opening up Child Development Accounts (CDAs) that the government automatically opens for all American babies at birth. Such accounts will make it easier for parents at all income levels to help children develop financial capital and assets from birth.
Build Financial Capability Gateways. Building an integrated online portal would help Americans keep on top of all their financial matters. The AASWSW’s vision is an online gateway that integrates automatic enrollment into accounts, financial management, financial education, and financial empowerment. Americans could do everything on these portals from getting enrolled in savings and retirement accounts to paying taxes to receiving case management financial support.
With these tools, it would be easier for Americans to manage their finances, and for social workers to identify clients who need support with financial management.
Meet This Grand Challenge
Many social workers are already working on financial literacy with clients, but for others, this is an area where we need more education. As a student or professional, advocate for financial training to be part of the social work curriculum at your school or workplace.
You can start out improving your own financial literacy training by reading Financial Capability and Asset Building For All, which explains the policies the AASWSW hopes we will advocate for for our clients at the local and federal levels.
This Grand Challenge is also a perfect opportunity for you to review your own personal financial literacy. Are you building your own savings and assets in a way that will help you be financially secure? Remember, we serve others better when we take care of ourselves first!