Children should not face barriers to finding their place in the world. All kids should be able to use their talents as scientists, teachers, engineers, leaders in their towns and providers for their families. Yet, on Dec. 10 the US Census Bureau released stats that highlight that in every county but one, Oregon kids are experiencing higher rates of poverty than they were in 2007.
If we’re going to improve the outlook for kids today and future generations to come we need a big change. Children’s Savings Accounts (CSAs) are a proven way to help kids succeed in college, career and community.
In the last few months, the Oregon Asset Building Coalition hosted two events that have helped to grow the our Children’s Savings Account campaign!
During our Children’s Savings Account workshop at the RE:Conference we had participants serve as a focus group to discuss what they thought would be the most important design characteristics for CSAs for the children of Oregon. Here’s what we learned from our 1st focus group!
- It’s clear that participants want our CSA program to foster a college-bound (or future-focused) identity in children while also promoting educational achievement.
- Increasing child and family financial capability and savings habits also rose to the top.
- All of our participants want to see a statewide, universal and automatic enrollment (opt-out program).
- The majority of folks think the CSA should enroll children in kindergarten but there were a few creative ideas floated around 2 capture points – enrolling children at birth and having a second round of enrollment at the start of kindergarten.
- All participants want to see an incentive structure that can be targeted to address equity needs across the state and specifically benefit families with low-incomes.
- Participants strongly felt that account balances should not be counted toward asset limits.
- It was very important to the group that all children have access to a CSA regardless of whether or not they have a Social Security Number.
- People also want our CSA to have flexible options for making deposits and low (or no) fees.
On November 16th, Tanya Beer from the Center for Evaluation Innovation helped us identify the skill sets brought to the coalition by our current members and to identify the other key stakeholders who we have not yet engaged. We look forward to bringing a wide range of stakeholders into our CSA campaign.
In December, the Coalition will start to build the team that will determine what exactly CSAs could look like in Oregon, as well as bringing together key sub-groups to help us solicit feedback from stakeholders.
Stay tuned to hear more about our design process and what we will need from each of you moving forward!