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December 2013Vol. 14, No. 9Financial Empowerment Training

Social service agencies often serve as trusted resources for clients on the matters of financial information and education. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently set out to learn what tools local social service providers need to help their clients increase their financial capabilities. To do this, the Bureau scanned the field, contacting 14 organizations that provide financial empowerment training to case managers and frontline staff. A report released in September, Financial Empowerment Training for Social Service Programs: A Scan of Community-Based Initiatives, shares the findings from the Bureau's efforts.

In addition to the field scan, the Bureau conducted interviews with five organizations representing a diverse range of approaches to financial empowerment training, including Seattle-King County Asset Building Collaborative, United Way of Greater Cincinnati, Louisville Metro/Living Cities, the Financial Clinic, and the State of Minnesota. Some of the findings outlined in the report include the following:

  • Case managers and financial educators have a common understanding of the challenges their clients face, despite differences in service delivery and geography.
  • The degree of case managers' motivation to learn more about financial empowerment varies widely.
  • Case managers struggle with when and how to incorporate this type of education into their work with clients. One obstacle to case managers' integrating financial information into their work with clients may be their confidence regarding financial issues, even after receiving training.

The findings were used by the Bureau to develop a financial empowerment toolkit, Your Money, Your Goals, for training case management and frontline staff to build their competencies in providing financial empowerment services to their clients. The Bureau is currently testing the toolkit and will distribute it widely in 2014.

Financial Empowerment Training for Social Service Programs: A Scan of Community-Based Initiatives is available here: (281 KB)