Integrating Financial Capability
Building the financial security of households is something that affects many social service providers. We often hear questions such as:
- How can I help my clients improve their credit scores so that when I help them find affordable housing or stable employment, their credit doesn't limit the places that will accept their applications?
- How do I help my clients open safe, affordable bank accounts so that when I place them in jobs, they don't lose a big portion of each paycheck to expensive check cashers?
- What can I do to help families build an emergency savings account when they visit our food pantry so that they are more prepared for future financial crises?
- How do I teach my clients to follow a monthly budget so that they don't fall behind on their utility bills after I help them find stable housing?
- How can I help my clients get out of debt so that they can start saving for the future instead of moving from one financial crisis to the next?
Prosperity Now sees an opportunity to integrate financial capability discussions, resources and tools within existing human service programs such as housing, early childhood education, community health centers and child welfare, in order to increase the overall impact of these programs and increase the scale and reach of financial capability services. Folding financial capability services into these other social services can address the central and interrelated problems families face in achieving financial security.
The interest in "bundling" social services to address the multiple needs of families is growing among community practitioners and charitable foundations across the country. Innovative social service providers in both the nonprofit and government sectors have embraced the idea of coordinating access to multiple types of services, including financial capability services, as a way to improve outcomes and enhance the financial well-being of their clients. Evidence from these service providers shows that embedding such financial capability strategies – helping families access financial information; connecting families to safe, affordable financial products and services; building savings and wealth and teaching them to protect themselves in the financial marketplace – boosts programmatic outcomes.Folding asset-building services into other social services can address the central and interrelated problems families face in achieving financial security.