“Exploring a Model for Integrating Child Development Accounts with Social Services for Vulnerable Families,” by Jin Huang, Sondra G. Beverly, Youngmi Kim, Margaret M. Clancy and Michael Sherraden, appeared in the journal’s Fall 2019 issue.
The article is one of three finalists selected by editor Ron Hill, the Journal’s associate editors and the Board of Directors of the American Council on Consumer Interests. Given annually, the Best Paper Award honors the authors of one article published in the journal during the prior year.
“We are honored to receive this nomination,” said Huang, the study’s lead author. “The journal sets the highest standards for scholarship on programs and policies affecting financial well-being. We feel privileged that our study would receive such recognition.” Huang is a research associate professor in the Brown School, associate professor at Saint Louis University, and a faculty director with the Center for Social Development.
The study, summarized here, examined the effects of SEED OK’s Child Development Account (CDA) intervention on low-income families in Head Start and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.
Now in its 13th year, SEED OK is a randomized test of an automatic, universal and progressive CDA policy with a statewide sample. Through the intervention, newborns received an automatically opened CDA with $1,000, additional opportunities for incentives and information on the accounts.
Evidence from the SEED OK has shaped statewide CDA policies implemented in Pennsylvania, Nebraska and California, as well as new legislation, filed in both houses of Missouri’s General Assembly, to create an automatic, statewide CDA policy in the Show-Me State.
Huang and colleagues identified several benefits for families participating in Head Start and TANF. Findings show that the CDA intervention generated improvements in positive and punitive parenting, financial outcomes, levels of maternal depressive symptoms and the social-emotional development of children. Together, these effects point to a pattern of positive influence on child and family development, above and beyond the financial impacts of CDAs, which are also positive.
The authors also proposed a model for integrating the accounts into other social services. The model emphasizes automatic enrollment and the use of a centralized financial platform, the state 529 college savings plan.
The winner of the journal’s 2020 award will be announced in May at the annual conference of the American Council on Consumer Interests.