What is the impact of participating in intensive financial coaching and financial literacy classes on workers' financial capability, wellness, and mental health?
Three charitable organizations, the Jewish Federation Services (JFS) in Austin, Dallas, and Houston, are working with Notre Dame’s Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities (LEO) to implement a large-scale randomized control trial (RCT) of an intensive financial literacy program with 6-12 months of individual financial coaching, based on the United Way Thrive model, and 6 financial literacy classes offered by the Women’s Resource Center. The study aims to enroll at least 900 participants, evenly divided between treatment and control, over the span of 3 years with participants being monitored for at least 12 months from study intake.
The researchers will provide evidence on the effectiveness of financial literacy coaching and classes on a host of important issues facing this population. The data for the project include a survey at intake, a follow-on survey at approximately 6-9 months, links to personnel records, links to unemployment insurance records and benefit receipt, and links to Experian Credit Report data. A key concern in this evaluation is whether the benefits of the program justify the cost of such an intensive intervention. By considering the “whole person” impacts, we are better able to capture the full scope of benefits to the worker and to the community.
Participants are drawn from caregivers registered to provide in-home eldercare through a matching agency, BubbieCare, in Austin, Dallas, and Houston, TX. The workers are independently hired by families to provide in-home care to elderly, with matching and payroll services provided by the company. This group of low-income, non-career workers, many of whom are immigrants, may particularly benefit from enhanced financial literacy and capability. Moreover, improving workers’ wellness may yield benefits to the employers. In this setting, there are clear externalities to a more productive workforce – they can provide better care. This study design enables the analysis of worker productivity as proxied through wages and length of relationship with the families of care recipients.