Institute for Economic and Racial Equity

Asset Building for Children and Families

Children’s Savings Accounts (CSAs) are programs that provide children with savings and/or investment accounts, which are intended for post-secondary education (or other asset-building), and which provide direct, monetary incentives for savings.

Post-secondary education—like trade school, college, or graduate school—can make a huge difference in children’s future earning potential and act as leverage for upward mobility. Yet, nearly half of Americans do not have even $400 in savings for emergencies, let alone enough savings to support their children’s education past high school. Children's Savings Accounts (CSAs) can help families to see higher education as an achievable goal while their children are still young. Parents’ and children’s educational expectations are an important predictor of children’s later academic achievement.

Beyond educational expectations, savings for post-secondary education are also associated with improvements in early childhood development, child health, maternal mental health, and academic performance. Because investing in these programs reaps a wide and rich return of benefits for parents and children, CSAs are gaining traction as a promising policy tool to expand educational and economic opportunities for children from low- and moderate-income families. Numerous states, cities, localities, and organizations across the United States have begun sponsoring CSAs in recent years. CSAs designed to fully include low- and moderate-income families can also help narrow the racial wealth gap in the long term by facilitating access to financial and educational opportunities for those who have historically been excluded.

Learn more about IERE’s Children’s Savings Account work here.