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Communication matters: A long-term follow-up study of child savings account program participation

Date Added to Library: 
Thursday, April 25, 2019 - 09:11
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Individual Author: 
Blumenthal, Anne
Shanks, Trina R.
Reference Type: 
Published Date: 
May 2019
Published Date (Text): 
May 2019
Children and Youth Services Review
Page Range: 

As they are a long-term policy instrument, the results of many child savings account (CSA) programs take decades to realize. Because of this, important questions regarding the long-term impacts of the programs, as well as participants' perceptions regarding the programs' long-term impacts, are unanswered. In this study, we present findings from a qualitatively driven complex mixed methods follow-up of the first large CSA demonstration project, the quasi-experimental Michigan Saving for Education, Entrepreneurship, and Downpayment (SEED) program. We asked SEED account-holding and non-account-holding families how they communicated about college, saving for college, and future educational attainment, nearly ten years after the CSA demonstration project ended. In a novel approach, we conducted separate semi-structured interviews with dyads of parents and children, combining that information with survey data and account balance monitoring data, ultimately gaining a multidimensional picture of how families with and without SEED accounts were approaching planning for post-secondary education right before the transition to adulthood. We found that: (1) the vast majority of account-holding families did not make withdrawals from their SEED accounts, (2) recent family communication about the SEED accounts was related to the specificity of a child's post-secondary plans, (3) there were tensions between college aspirations and the concrete steps needed to get there, and (4) families voiced concerns regarding the substantial barriers to post-secondary education. These findings point to both the promises and challenges of CSAs that newly developed programs might want to consider. (Author abstract)


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