Can Child Savings Accounts Prevent Maltreatment?

Despite a wealth of literature showing a strong relationship between economic resources and child maltreatment, no existing intervention research has examined whether or not an economic approach could be helpful in the prevention of maltreatment. This project will study whether an asset-building approach is effective in promoting a safe, stable and nurturing relationship that reduces the risk of child maltreatment.

This small exploratory study augments data from a funded experiment of child development accounts in Oklahoma (SEED for Oklahoma Kids, or SEED OK).

SEED OK will deposit $1,000 into an Oklahoma College savings plan account (SEED OK account) for every infant in the treatment group and provide matching funds to savings made by income-eligible parents. It is hypothesized that asset-building intervention through child development accounts (SEED OK accounts) impacts parenting behaviors and attitudes leading to improved likelihood of a safe, stable and nurturing relationship between the child and parent. This project will add questions for the second wave of data collection following the initial provision of accounts to see if the treatment group varies significantly in maltreatment risk from the control group.

The sample of the SEED OK experiment was randomly selected from birth records provided by the Oklahoma State Department of Health. SEED OK oversampled racial/ethnic minority groups to guarantee enough power for separate analyses of these groups. SEED OK randomly assigned the sample into treatment (N=1,360) and control (N=1,347) groups after the completion of baseline survey. Sample size is estimated to be sufficient to detect intervention effects if they exist.
In addition to being able to measure both poverty and assets, this study will measure key aspects of CDC’s safe, stable nurturing environments:

elements of insuring safety (efficacy, social support, stress, maternal depression, no removal from home into foster care, and harsh parenting)

stability (of caretaker and residence)

nurturing (attachment, maternal depression, parenting efficacy & practices, cognitive home environment, social support

Explore the potential impact of CDA on early childhood parenting

Examine possible mediating mechanisms in the relationship between CDAs and measures of a safe, stable, and nurturing environment

Test whether the effect of SEED OK is different by race/ethnicity

Yunju Nam, PhD

Center for Disease Control and Prevention


Michael Sherraden, PhD
Patricia Kohl, PhD

Yunju Nam