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Planning Guide Shows Growing Momentum for Strategies to Build Financial Capability

By Kori Hattemer on 07/09/2015 @ 11:00 AM

Tags: Integrating Financial Capability, News

Social service providers have been working for years to help low-income families achieve financial stability by securing well-paying jobs, stable housing and access to affordable health care. Yet to remain economically secure in the long term, families also need the skills, knowledge and access to the financial products necessary to manage their financial lives well – in other words, they need to be financially capable. For that reason, many social service organizations are interested in integrating financial capability services into the work they already do. In response, the Administration for Children and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human services, in partnership with CFED, released Building Financial Capability: A Planning Guide for Integrated Services in April of this year.

This Planning Guide is a comprehensive, interactive resource that gives program directors the tools they need to create an effective plan for integrating financial capability services. Because it breaks down the integration process step by step, the Guide makes it easy for organizations to design and implement these services for their own clients.

Since the Guide was released, the response from service providers has been overwhelmingly positive. More than 3,000 people have viewed the Guide online, and we have been hard at work to make sure organizations have the support they need to use it.

First, we launched the Guide with a webinar, which was met with more enthusiasm than we could have predicted. During the webinar, which drew nearly 500 attendees, two of the Guide’s authors gave an overview of the Guide and its tools, and Renise Walker with Jubilee Housing shared insights about how she used tools in the Guide to integrate a credit-building initiative into their services.

Next, we took the Guide on the road with a successful series of seven statewide workshops in Idaho, Minnesota, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington and Wisconsin. These workshops gave participants the opportunity to use tools from the Planning Guide to identify new partnership and referral opportunities in their state. When we asked organizations for feedback after the workshops, many wrote gleaming reviews about the Guide. Check out this blog post for more information about the workshops.

We have also been talking about financial capability services integration to a variety of groups around the country. So far, we have presented at state and regional conferences in Vermont, Florida and Texas. Here’s where you can find us over the next six months:

Finally, CFED is providing one-on-one support to a few organizations that are looking for additional hands-on guidance to get their integration efforts off the ground. These organizations include city, county and state government agencies; local intermediaries; and local direct service providers. Furthermore, organizations participating in the Community Financial Empowerment Learning Partnership are using the Guide to determine how community partners can work together to build the financial capability of their clients. With support from CFED, they’re using the tools to learn more about how clients are managing their financial lives now and strengthen delivery of financial capability services. The purpose of this TA is both to support these organizations’ efforts to integrate financial capability and for CFED to learn about how the Guide can be used in different settings. We plan to share these lessons and insights in publications throughout the year.

But that’s not all! We are also about to launch a Virtual Learning Series for members of the Assets & Opportunity Network. Due to enormous interest in the Guide from members of the Network, we will be facilitating five interactive, deep-diving webinars from July through December. A range of speakers will explore the tools, share real-world experiences and help organizations plan their own integration projects.

Plus, we’re developing training videos! The series of short videos will each focus on a different section of the Guide and provide guidance on how to use it. Look for an email announcing the release of the videos later this year.

We are so focused on financial capability services integration because of its enormous potential to help families achieve financial security. Now, with the Guide, we’re thrilled to have the opportunity to expand the number of service providers that are offering these important services. Find out more by visiting CFED’s Integrating Financial Capability website and share your experience using the Planning Guide by emailing PlanningGuide@cfed.org.

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