Across Wisconsin, many community partnerships have been established to promote financial well-being with families in Head Start or Early Head Start. Families are invited to participate in the Money $mart in Head Start (M$iHS )project at the start of the school year either through Head Start staff or through UW-Madison Division of Extension educators at Head Start events (ex: family nights, open houses). Households are asked to voluntarily complete a survey about their financial behaviors, knowledge, confidence, and interest in participating in financial coaching. Participants are then mailed a follow-up survey in the spring.
Families that participate in the M$iHS program in Wisconsin can be offered a mixture of the following financial capability-building activities, depending on local resources and collaborating Head Start agencies: monthly newsletters, financial workshops, and financial coaching.
A series of eight monthly newsletters that highlight key financial information are available on this website (issues 1-8). These newsletters were designed such that readers are encouraged to set a financial goal during the first month, with subsequent newsletters highlighting financial management skills that could help them reach those goals. We recognize that many Head Start families participate in the program for consecutive years, so a second set of newsletters is also available on this website (issues A-H). For simplicity, we encourage newsletter users to distribute newsletters from one set or the other each school year.
Newsletters can be distributed through the postal mail, e-mail, sent home with children attending Head Start centers, or given out during family home visits during the school year. We invite all Head Start programs across the United States to download and share these free newsletters with their families. All newsletters are available in English and Spanish.
Workshops can be a great way to share important financial information. Gaining new knowledge can be very empowering and can help increase financial confidence. Two financial workshop curricula are available in both English and Spanish. The first workshop focuses on budgeting and saving, and the second workshop focuses on credit management. The workshops were designed to complement, rather than simply repeat, the information in the monthly newsletters.
Financial workshops may be offered in counties where UW-Madison Division of Extension educators provide financial education in-person or online. Community partners and volunteers are also welcome to use or adapt the existing curricula for their own organizations.
Recognizing that information alone may not be enough to help individuals change their behavior and reach their financial goals, financial coaching can be offered in counties where UW-Madison Division of Extension educators or volunteers are trained in coaching. Financial coaching is a collaborative process in which the coach and family work together, usually checking-in once a month, to reach long-term financial goals.
For more information on Money $mart in Head Start, contact Jenny Abel, Financial Security Program Manager.
We are grateful for the support of the Annie E. Casey Foundation for this project.