As the Center team developed the Practice of the Future model, economic well-being was a theme families elevated as an important way health care could support them. As such, one of the core components of the model is an embedded financial coach who has training in financial topics as well as behavior change and who is a core part of the care team. Stefany Araujo, the financial coach, is available to meet with families in the clinic when they visit for primary care, and remotely through phone calls and telehealth. During financial coaching, the client/parent meets one-on-one with the coach, either short- or long-term. The coach’s role is to help the parent identify their financial goals and to provide support and education in reaching these goals.
Since launching financial coaching in December 2020, the Center has seen tremendous interest. Of the 99 Practice of the Future families, 72 (73 percent) have been interested in coaching. Half of those families (38 or 53 percent) have decided to enroll in the program to receive one-time or ongoing financial coaching. The most popular areas of interest for families are opening 529 college savings accounts (65 percent), reducing debt or expenses (20 percent) and budgeting and saving (20 percent). Twenty families (20 percent) have opened 529 accounts since connecting to the program. This percentage is particularly notable since nationally only 3 percent of families nationwide have 529 accounts, and these families tend to be white, college educated and wealthy. In contrast, of the Practice of the Future parents participating in this program, 64 percent identify as Black or African American, 18 percent identify as more than one race and 46 percent identify as Hispanic or Latinx. Their average self-reported income is $21,600. The impact of opening a 529 account can be long-term, as data show that simply having one triples the likelihood of a child attending college and quadruples the likelihood of graduating.
Parents who have participated have provided overwhelmingly positive feedback. One parent said, “It is a great resource for parents that need help on getting on the right track or need to start thinking about their finances in general.”
Parents reported feeling very supported: “I’ve also gotten a lot of words of support and encouragement from Stefany to keep going in life even if it gets tough.”
They also perceived it helps both with finances and stress: “It has helped me a lot because I’ve gotten a lot of help with diapers, money management, stress management.”
“I have been given the opportunity to educate families on the importance of money management and lead them towards a path of financial stability for empowerment. It is extremely rewarding to teach new moms how to track their spending and create a budget so that they can better prepare for upcoming expenses such as daycare. I emphasize that creating a habit of tracking income and spending on a regular basis helps individuals see their progress on the road to achieving their financial goals. With their new monthly budgets and a supportive coach, they are supported in creating and maintaining new good habits. Families now know where their money is going and can pay themselves first!” Stefany reflected on her experience as a coach.