A new toolkit for social services providers

Managing money and choosing financial products can be challenging. Even the wealthiest people seek financial advice, but for consumers who are struggling to make ends meet, up-to-date information and money management tools aren’t easy to find.

For some low-income consumers, front-line caseworkers are one of the few sources of information they can turn to. We visited and spoke to various programs that are training social services staff on financial education to learn about their successes and the barriers they face. This helped us understand how to help equip them to talk about financial challenges with the people they serve. We also asked social workers to tell us what’s working in their communities.

We learned that many case managers struggle to have the “money talk” because they don’t feel confident in their own knowledge and skills. We also learned that effective programs not only provide them with basic financial education, but also help them understand when and how to talk with their clients about their financial goals. While there are many ways that organizations train case managers, there’s consensus about the topics that are most relevant to low-income families. Yesterday, we released a white paper summarizing what we learned from these programs. We hope you’ll read it and share your own experiences with us. You can tell us your story or leave a comment below.

The knowledge we gained shaped the way we built Your Money, Your Goals and the accompanying training. It covers budgeting, credit, debt, choosing financial products, and consumer financial protection. We hope that social services organizations will use it to connect their clients to information and resources to achieve their financial goals.

To field-test our toolkit, we launched a 25-site pilot project. As part of the pilot, community organizations across the country are conducting staff workshops and will be asking staff to share what they learn with their clients. Following the pilot, we will release the toolkit on consumerfinance.gov so that it will be accessible to social services staff and the consumers they serve.

We’re very pleased with the early reception for Your Money, Your Goals. We look forward to bringing this tool to many thousands of consumers through the caseworkers who serve them.

Due to technical issues, the commenting feature of our blog is temporarily unavailable. We’re working to bring this functionality back, and look forward to hearing your feedback and comments about the CFPB’s work soon.