Abstract

Speakers/Presenters:
Sally Hageman, PhD, Research Assistant Professor, University of Maryland at Baltimore, Baltimore, MD
Julie Birkenmaier, PhD, Professor, St. Louis University, St. Louis, MO
Vernon Loke, PhD, Associate Professor, Eastern Washington University, Cheney, WA

Background and Purpose:
Methods: This study uses non-randomized survey data drawn from the responses of 516 students enrolled in 16 public and private BSW and MSW social work programs in the U.S. to examine social work students’ perceptions of financial capability interventions in social work practice. The sample was obtained through professional social work networks and a Financial Social Work Scholar collaborative. BSW and MSW students were invited in person, by e-mail, and/or through bulletin board postings to respond to the questionnaire online or using paper and pencil. Descriptive variables include demographic information (age, gender, race, type of social work program), program status, preferred field of practice, and previous financial education. Logistic regression was used to examine respondents’ perceptions about the importance of including an economic focus within intervention efforts. 

Results: Results of the logistic regression model indicate that students’ preferred fields of practice are significantly associated with the importance they ascribe to including financial capability as a focus of social work intervention. Students preferring to practice in the fields of children and families (p = .01) and mental health (p =.005) attached significantly lower levels of importance compared to those preferring macro practice. In addition, students’ perceptions of the importance of including financial capability content in the social work curriculum is significantly associated with the outcome of interest (p = .000). However, no significant associations were observed with respect to students’ level of comfort with implementing financial capability inventions, their financial literacy and financial self-efficacy.

Conclusions and Implications: Findings suggest that student perception of financial capability interventions can be influenced by the importance placed on the topic within courses taught relevant to their field of practice and within the broader curriculum. Curricular policy and research implications will be shared.

And:

Speakers/Presenters:
Margaret Sherraden, PhD, Founders Professor of Social Work, University of Missouri-Saint Louis, St. Louis, MO
Lissa Johnson, MSW, Director of Administration, Washington University in Saint Louis, St. Louis, MO
Peter Dore, MA, Director of Data Management, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO
Vernon Loke, PhD, Associate Professor, Eastern Washington University, Cheney, WA
Julie Birkenmaier, PhD, Professor, St. Louis University, St. Louis, MO
Sally Hageman, PhD, Research Assistant Professor, University of Maryland at Baltimore, Baltimore, MD

Background and purpose:
Methods
: Data were collected using a survey of the population of faculty from 761 accredited social work programs (CSWE, 2016). With no database of all U.S. social work faculty, individuals were identified through program websites. The survey examines faculty assessment of (a) the amount and type of F&E content in their current courses, (b) perceived usefulness of F&E content, (c) recommendations and barriers for including F&E content, and (e) faculty’s own financial knowledge. Univariate, bivariate, and multiple regression analyses estimate patterns and relationships that can inform strategies for F&E curricular development. 

Results: Only half (52%, n=586) teach at least one course with any F&E content at all. And of those, F&E content is taught most frequently at the BSW (51%) and MSW (48%) levels. The proportion of time spent teaching F&E content averaged just under 30% (sd 22, range 1-100%). Among topics most likely to be taught are: impact of race on financial well-being, helping clients obtain government benefits and health insurance. Among topics least likely to be taught are: financial values and goals, identity theft, or credit reports. 

Of the 1,121 respondents who report teaching since August 2016, the most common answer to whether or not they teach any of the specific 25 F&E content items in any of their classes is “never.”
However, respondents were much more likely to report that F&E content is useful for their students. The most common answer to “how useful” it is for their students to learn about F&E content items is “very.” In response to whether more F&E should be taught in SWE, faculty overwhelmingly answered yes (91%), and most recommended integrating F&E content into existing courses (80%).
The two most cited barriers to more F&E content are lack of flexibility in the curriculum due to accreditation requirements (68),
lack of faculty expertise (62%) and lack of interest (43%). Half of respondents (52%) reported little or no previous financial education, and only 25% rated their own financial knowledge and skills as high. 

Conclusions and Implications: Respondents believe F&E content is useful for students, but tend not to include such content in their courses. Given faculty support for F&E content, as well as lack of faculty preparation and accreditation issues, efforts to prepare social workers should include more education. This should be accompanied by conceptual and pedagogical advances linking social and economic justice to financial practice in order to prepare social workers to improve financial well-being in vulnerable households (CSWE, n.d.).