Young children are developmentally poised to benefit from investments in their cognitive development AND their financial well-being. They are ready to learn and still forming their ideas about how they think the world works, and where they fit within it. They have the advantage of many years over which to watch their savings grow, and they can still benefit significantly from being nudged in the direction of a college-bound and college-saver identity. Terri Friedline has woven together the science of brain development in early childhood with evidence of how children interact with financial institutions and opportunities, to inform the emerging work around early childhood savings. Her research also suggests immediate practical applications, including for integrating CSAs into Head Start or other early childhood programs, as well as for reforming financial education programs to meet the unique developmental needs and capacities of these youngest potential savers.
Particularly as policymakers seek to realize the greatest possible gains from all public investments, there is particular promise in finding ways to improve efficacy by joining interventions such as these. Seen through an early childhood lens, promoting children's savings is clearly not just in the interest of CSA stakeholders. Educators--including those addressing school readiness and the achievement gap--should care about what's in those piggy banks (and, then, those bank accounts!) too.