Recommended Standards for TANF Payment Card Contracts

  • and Elizabeth Lower-Basch, Center for Law and Social Policy; Andrea Luquetta, California Reinvestment Coalition
April 21, 2014
Families participating in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program (TANF/cash assistance) often must pay significant fees and surcharges to withdraw their benefits at an ATM. In California, fees charged to recipients of TANF and other public assistance programs added up to $19 million in 2012, according to a new report from the California Reinvestment Coalition. Since families’ average monthly grants are only a few hundred dollars, these small fees can have a significant impact on their ability to make ends meet.

Guest Post: Six Tax Reforms to Increase Economic Security for All

April 17, 2014
Publication Image Editor's note: this blog post was authored by Heather McCulloch, Manager of the Tax Policy Project of the Asset Funders Network. It originally appeared on the ACCESS to Financial Security site and is reprinted here with the author's permission.

It’s tax time, the perfect time to consider how tax code reforms can create an America that lives up to its promise of opportunity for all.

Asset Building News Week, April 7-11

April 11, 2014
Publication Image The Asset Building News Week is a weekly Friday feature on The Ladder, the Asset Building Program blog, designed to help readers keep up with news and developments in the asset building field. This week's topics include savings policy, poverty, and inequality.

Locked Up and Locked Out: Applying an Assets Lens to Reentry

April 7, 2014
Publication Image This Friday, the Asset Building Program will be hosting an event about the impacts of incarceration on financial security and inclusion, highlighting a new piece by our fellow Monica Potts about a reentry program at the Center for Urban Families in Baltimore. As Monica’s article details, for ex-offenders, the institutional barriers to basic financial stability—let alone savings—are vast. For a group facing so many obstacles, is asset building even relevant?

Upcoming Event: 2014 Color of Wealth Summit

April 2, 2014
Publication Image Mark your calendars for April 30 and May 1: the Closing the Racial Wealth Gap Initiative (managed by the Center for Global Policy Solutions) will be hosting its annual Color of Wealth Summit in Washington, D.C. The goal of the event is to bring together political leaders, researchers from a range of fields, advocates, and members of the public for a conversation about “the racial wealth gap, its effect on marginalized households, its impact on the U.S. economy, and solutions for closing the gap.”

Just Published—The Assets Perspective

March 28, 2014
Publication Image I am very pleased to announce the publication of The Assets Perspective: The Rise of Asset Building and it Impact on Social Policy. It’s a 13-chapter edited volume which I worked on with Trina Shanks and a host of excellent contributors.
The book presents a multi-dimensional exploration of how the concept of asset building has taken shape over the last two decades. Many of the chapters were originally presented at a 2012 symposium designed to consider the impact of Michael Sherraden’s seminal book, Assets and the Poor, originally published in 1991. Sherraden’s insights, which focused on the factors that impact long-term socio-economic outcomes rather than short-term income or poverty, inspired a new generation of practitioners to apply the assets perspective to efforts creating new pathways up the economic ladder for families with low incomes and few resources. It was time to examine how the emergent “assets perspective” has impacted the way social policy is now conceived, designed, and delivered.
Topics covered in the book include the evolution of public assistance programs, the racial wealth gap, the impact of the Great Recession on the family balance sheet, the challenge of affordable homeownership, the history of financial services, children’s savings initiatives, and the potential of policy reform. Our goal was to produce a book that could serve as a valuable resource for those looking to learn more about the asset-building field and also how this framework is shaping contemporary policy discussions. It is designed to be relevant for those engaged in social policy and anti-poverty work, including practitioners, researchers, and policymakers alike.
Here is the table of contents:

Rebalancing the Scales

  • By
  • Rachel Black,
  • New America Foundation
March 19, 2014
The 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty naturally prompts reflection on how much progress has been made and how to chart a path forward. While there is a marked divergence in the diagnosis of poverty’s roots and the policy prescriptions necessary to address them, a consensus is emerging that new efforts are needed to promote opportunity, economic mobility and to ensure that the American Dream remains attainable.

New Report: It Still Takes Money to Make Money

March 12, 2014
Publication Image On Tuesday, our colleagues at the Assets and Education Initiative at the University of Kansas released a new report called Harnessing Assets to Build an Economic Mobility Agenda. The key finding? It takes money to make money.

Roth Accounts for Youth Savings

March 7, 2014
Publication Image While the notion of universal children’s savings continues to receive serious consideration at the highest levels of federal lawmaking, there is no formal plan on the table to promote CSAs and no guarantee that a plan will be adopted in the near future. Congress will need to consider a wide array of options before making a move on CSAs, a process that could take years. In the meantime, there continues to be a big gap in the financial-services marketplace for parents who want to save for their children.

The Financial Health Check: Building Behavioral Econ into Financial Coaching

March 6, 2014
Publication Image The Asset Building Program released a paper today titled “The Financial Health Check: A Behavioral Approach to Financial Coaching.” The paper, coauthored by Antoinette Schoar, a professor at MIT, and Piyush Tantia, executive director at ideas42, presents the findings of a pilot organized by ideas42 to test the effectiveness of a new way of offering financial coaching called a “Financial Health Check,” or FHC. The new type of financial coaching differs from the traditional form of financial coaching in a number of ways. Perhaps most importantly, FHC attempts to adopt behaviorally informed strategies of simplicity and automation to maximize the utility of coaching time and eliminate key obstacles to successful interventions and increased saving.
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