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Director Presents Network Social Capital Research at Conference on Self-sufficiency

October 23, 2020

Center director Mariana Chilton, PhD, MPH, presented evidence from the Building Wealth and Health Network at the Research and Evaluation Conference on Self-Sufficiency (RECS) held during two weeks in October. She spoke on the topic of social capital and its impact on mental health and employment that was of particular interest professionals in the human services field.

The presentation discussed the impact of trauma on the well-being of children and adults, often measured by adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). It stressed the importance of embracing a trauma and healing-centered approach in human services work before jumping into the research.

The Building Wealth and Health Network specifically supports the development of social capital through bonding and bridging, which has been proven effective in counteracting the impact of ACEs and supporting the development of resilience. Additionally, Network research showed that increased social capital supported improved mental health which ultimately led to increased employment and reduced involvement in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) welfare program.

The program integrates peer support with financial education to empower its members and build personal and financial resilience through a 16-class curriculum and a matched savings program. The Network’s research has displayed evidence of also positively impacting food and economic security, financial health, self-efficacy, and other outcomes.

The 2020 RECS conference was held virtually due to COVID-19, and a video of the full presentation is available online for viewing.