The aim of this study was to understand parents'/guardians' experiences and aspirations around economic mobility and their impact on the acceptability and use of financial services embedded in frequented, trusted settings such as schools and pediatric clinics.
We recruited 18 English-speaking guardians with at least 1 child enrolled in a school for low-income families and eligible for Internal Revenue Service-sponsored free tax preparation. Each participant completed a semistructured interview before tax filing; a subset completed follow-up interviews. We used grounded theory analysis.
We developed the following theoretical model based on our key thematic findings to describe the acceptability and use of financial services within the context of guardians' lived experiences and pre-existing efforts to build economic mobility: Families experience multilevel barriers to economic mobility. Despite these barriers, guardians are proactively working to build economic mobility by empowering the next generation with knowledge, skills, and assets and resiliently pursuing economic goals. As a result, guardians will accept empowering, nonjudgmental, expert, and trustworthy financial services that contribute to their existing efforts. To move from acceptance to use, financial services must be effectively publicized, accessible, and supportive.
Financial services may be more acceptable and used if they are embedded in trusted organizations and have expert, supportive staff with lived experience who empower guardians to work toward their economic goals, accessible platforms, and effective publicity. These characteristics may facilitate uptake and economic mobility. Trusted organizations serving young families can partner with financial services to test these findings and help families build economic mobility.