College Savings Account Will Benefit Your Kid’s Development, Says Study

Image credit: Barta IV
Image credit: Barta IV

“What do you mean I have to wait until after my baby’s born before I can open up a savings account for him?!” asked an impatient 40+ week pregnant me to an unsuspecting bank teller.

“You’ll need a social security number to establish an account, ma’am, and your baby won’t be issued a number until after he was born.”

Hurumph! Didn’t these bank people know how busy I’d be after this baby was born? I had baby shower money from the grandparents to deposit!

While my desire to start saving for my baby prior to his delivery might sound a little nutty, science might just have my back on this one.

A new study published by JAMA Pediatrics suggests that kids who grow up with college savings accounts reap developmental advantages.

In a study of 2,704 infant participants, half were provided with state-issued Child Development Accounts (CDAs), additional financial incentives, and information — while the other half were not.

Four years later, the mothers of the study participants completed a questionnaire that measured their children’s social and emotional behavior. Interestingly, the savings account group scored better than the non-savings account group on benchmarks of social and emotional development, particularly among disadvantaged families.

But why? Well, according to the study, “[CDAs] effects may be explained as a mediating process that influences parents. Child Development Accounts may influence parental attitudes, behaviors, expectations, and involvement; in turn, these may affect child development.”

While it perhaps comes as no surprise that financial and emotional investments are closely related, it’s interesting to see how this correlation translates into parenting, particularly for those of low socioeconomic standing. Imagine how difficult it must be for deeply disadvantaged parents to imagine a future for their children beyond that of basic survival. Now dare to imagine how profound the effect of such a small financial investment could be for the future success and social-emotional development of our youth. You see, it’s not only about the money, it’s about the hope the money represents and the emotional investment in our collective future.

So hey, maybe we ought to focus our attention and dollars on helping kids from the very start, because what we’d be making is a promise. What we’d be doing is planting a seed of hope. And what we’d be saying is that this child — and every child — matters so much that we’re willing to bank on them.

Image credit: Flickr/Barta IV

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