Year of Publication
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: In 2019, Pennsylvania launched a Children's Development Account (CDA) program that invests $100 in an education savings account for every child born in the state. However, as of 2021, only 10.6% of families claimed the investment. Low-income communities may stand to benefit most from educational investments, but few studies have assessed barriers and facilitators of uptake in these communities. We sought to examine low-income caregivers' perceptions of and barriers and facilitators to participation in a statewide CDA program, and their receptivity to clinic-based financial counseling through a Medical Financial Partnership.
METHODS: We surveyed 100 caregivers of Medicaid-insured children from two primary care practices serving a predominantly low-income community. From these 100, we purposively sampled 30 caregivers for follow-up interviews.
RESULTS: The 100 survey participants were predominantly female (83%), Black or African American (92%), and non-Hispanic or Latino (93%). 29% of survey participants were aware of the CDA program, 4% had enrolled, and 64% were interested in clinic-based financial counseling. In interviews, caregivers identified several barriers to and facilitators of engagement in the CDA program. They also identified several strategies to boost engagement, including simplifying registration, providing additional and personalized program information, expanding the investment amount, and providing clinic and community-based outreach.
CONCLUSIONS: Low-income caregivers identified several barriers to enrollment in a statewide CDA program and strategies to boost enrollment, including clinic-based financial counseling. Future research should examine the effectiveness, cost-effectiveness, and long-term financial and health consequences of clinic-based financial services for low-income families.