WASHINGTON--()--A new report released today examines the impact of financial education programs and asset matching in the lives of young people aging out of foster care, demonstrating that these supports have a tangible impact on the ability of young people to lead financially stable lives long after they have left the foster care system.
“Few programs target asset accumulation in children and young adults, and even fewer target especially vulnerable youth such as those involved in the child welfare system, which is why we were so fascinated to focus on Opportunity Passport”
The report, titled Enduring Assets: Findings from a Study on the Financial Lives of Young People Transitioning from Foster Care was compiled from research by University of Missouri professors Clark Peters and Margaret Sherraden, and research assistant Ann Marie Kuchinski, and focuses on the qualitative impact of Opportunity Passport™, a package of resources available in 15 states that teaches young people who have been in foster care how to manage their finances, and matches their savings toward approved purchases such as a car, a computer for use in education, or housing.
“Few programs target asset accumulation in children and young adults, and even fewer target especially vulnerable youth such as those involved in the child welfare system, which is why we were so fascinated to focus on Opportunity Passport,” says Dr. Clark Peters, a lead author of the report and a professor at the University of Missouri.
Opportunity Passport was launched in 2002 by the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative and is now available in 15 states for young people who were in foster care after their 14th birthday. Participants, who can currently remain in Opportunity Passport until their 24th birthday, take part in financial education to learn about the importance of saving and asset management. Once the first phase of training is complete, participants are provided with a personal bank account and an individual development account (IDA), with an initial balance of $100. Each dollar saved through this program for approved assets, such as education expenses, housing costs, and healthcare, is matched dollar-for-dollar, up to $1,000 each calendar year. Opportunity Passport is being revised in 2013 to extend eligibility to age 26 and mandate a new minimum of $3,000 in matched funds over the duration of a young person’s participation in Opportunity Passport. Also starting in 2013, the financial education aspect of Opportunity Passport will broken into phases, meaning young people will not be required to fully complete financial education prior to becoming Opportunity Passport™ participants.
Since the program launched, it has helped nearly 5,000 young people collectively save more than $6 million to put toward their education, a car, an apartment or other asset.
According to the report findings, young people who have participated in the program have seen improved success in their own personal financial discipline, even in cases where they were unsuccessful in saving for an asset, because such failures lay the groundwork for future responsible management of personal finances. Enduring Assets was commissioned by the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative, though the group had no role or influence in the findings of the report.
ABOUT THE JIM CASEY YOUTH OPPORTUNITIES INITIATIVE
Founded in 2001, the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative is one of the leading national voices in child welfare, particularly focused on supporting young people between ages 14 and 25 transitioning from foster care into adulthood. The Jim Casey Initiative works nationally, in states, and locally to help bridge a gap in services for the nearly 30,000 young people who transition from foster care without permanent connections to a stable family or community each year. For more information, visit: www.jimcaseyyouth.org.
ABOUT CLARK PETERS
Clark Peters is an Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Missouri, where he focuses his research on child welfare services and organizations, adolescent transition to adulthood, and other aspects of the child welfare and social services field. Clark holds a PhD, AM and BA from the University of Chicago, as well as a JD from Cornell Law School.
ABOUT MARGARET SHERRADEN
Margaret Sherraden is a Professor of Social Work at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and Research Professor at Washington University. Her current research focuses on financial capability, adult and youth savings, and international volunteering and service. Margaret holds a PhD in sociology from Washington University, an AM from the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago, and a BA from Beloit College.