Idaho Financial Education Summit Summary

photo of Shirley Biladeau

by Shirley Biladeau, continuing education consultant

Idaho Financial Education Summit was held on April 5 at the Riverside Hotel in Boise and sponsored by the Idaho State Department of Finance among other agencies.  The event promoted the concept of an improved and more efficient financial education system for Idahoans of diverse backgrounds through a series of educational breakout sessions, valuable resources, experienced speakers and networking opportunities.  Attendees represented diverse agencies -- all of whom provide some level of financial literacy education including all types of financial institutions, mortgage companies, social service agencies, nonprofit organizations, and state agencies.  The entire theme of the day was a wholistic approach to financial education recognizing that an individual’s wealth is tied to education, health care, housing and other daily activities.

One approach to bringing the information to those that need it the most is Service Integration.  The Idaho Asset Building Network, an online database, has been created to offer a place for all agencies, organizations and individuals to register services that support individuals and communities.  More information can be found at Idaho Asset Building Network -- a statewide database of practitioners and advocates working to make asset building a priority in Idaho.  Membership is free and open to anyone working to help individuals and families achieve self-sufficiency.

Here are some Idaho data points:
• Income Poverty Rate for Idaho:  14.4%
• Asset Poverty Rate for Idaho:  29.6%
• Liquid Asset Poverty Rate for Idaho:  45.5%
• Early Childhood Education Enrollment:  only 30% of  3 and 4 year olds enrolled (last)
• Health Care - Uninsured:  15.7% - 39th in the nation
• Adults forgoing Medical visits  due to cost:  15.8% - 38th
• Employer Provided Insurance:  54.8% - 36th
• One-fourth of all Idahoans have no savings account.
Other key points:
• Idaho families are not recovering from the last depression.  No safety net.  No savings account.  Even though people are employed, they are employed in minimum wage, service positions with no benefits.
• Annual pay in Idaho is $40,000 -- lowest in the nation
• Since the recession, there is a change in home ownership -- there are fewer home owners.  Those who were before, who suffered during the recession are not repurchasing a home, rather they are renting.
• Only 77% of Idahoans have a high school diploma and an average student loan is $26,000.
Libraries can play an important role in partnering with other agencies to provide financial literacy education to the members of their community.  In addition they can work with other members of their community to influence policy solutions, such as eliminating the asset tests on benefits, raising awareness of predatory lending, and adjusting the state earned income tax credit.