Programs that encourage financial education and savings have been largely overlooked as remedies to many chronic public policy challenges, such as boosting family economic security. However, the Texas Office of the Attorney General (OAG) has recently launched an initiative to use an asset building approach to help their clients become more financially stable and reduce the need for child support enforcement.
In 2010, the OAG’s Child Support Division (CSD) received a grant for its Urban Fathers Asset Building (UFAB) project from the U.S. Health and Human Services’ Administration of Children and Families (ACF) as part of a three-year federal initiative to integrate asset-building into child support programs. ACF annually funds entities and programs that are innovating in the asset building arena by reaching new populations. The Texas pilot includes two components – a local project with a Houston-based organization and a statewide project to increase personal savings and financial skills for child support customers across Texas.
The Houston UFAB project wants to demonstrate that an asset building program targeting young low-income fathers can strengthen families and reduce the need of the child support program to enforce future legal and financial orders. The project is a partnership between CSD, Baylor College of Medicine and Covenant Community Capital Corporation. The initiative aims to interact with low-income fathers served by Baylor’s Fatherhood/Bootstraps programs immediately prior to and following the birth of their children in order to capture their attention when they are eager to learn about parental responsibility and before they have incurred a child support obligation. Participating fathers will be offered a “Fathers and Finances” workshop, in which they will learn about the financial responsibilities of fatherhood, the Texas child support system and the availability of in-depth money management services at Covenant Community Capital Corporation, a local partner.
Covenant will give 200 qualifying fathers in Baylor’s program the opportunity to enter its Smart Savers Individual Development Account Program (IDA) program to get hands-on experience in money management and budgeting. The Smart Saver program will match participants’ savings to achieve one of three goals: home ownership, small business development or postsecondary education.
The second part of the project, which revolves around a collaboration between CSD and RAISE Texas, aims to connect child support customers to financial education and other asset building services, promote free tax preparation services to CSD clients and increase their personal savings. To promote financial education to CSD clients, CSD and RAISE Texas will be educating child support field staff around the state about community-based asset building programs to which they can refer their clients. A key innovation includes those custodial parents who are receiving large lump sum child support payments and connecting them with a financial coach who can offer them guidance on what to do with their payments in a few pilot cities.
OpportunityTexas is thrilled about this project, which will serve as a laboratory for the development of knowledge, resources and promising strategies for the collaboration between CSD and asset building practitioners to help support the financial stability of CSD clients.
For more information about the Urban Fathers Asset Building initiative, contact Chris Giangreco at
or (512) 460-6535.