Frequently Asked Questions
America Saves Program
Q— We cooperate with the Individual Development Account (IDA) programs in the state by offering our money management programs to meet the financial education requirement. Can these programs qualify under America Saves?
A— IDA program participants are a good match for America Saves and other local Saves campaigns. In Cleveland, IDA participants are automatically signed up as Cleveland Savers. America Saves can add value to the IDA program over time by offering continued motivation and methods for saving after the IDA goal has been reached or if the IDA participant is unable to continue with the IDA program for whatever reason. America Saves also complements many home ownership counseling programs. In addition to saving for a down payment, building an emergency fund for expenses associated with homeownership is a good idea. Since an emergency fund is not an approved goal for a participant in an IDA program, Saves offers that opportunity.
Q—Can the state coordinators and the educators involved in conducting the America Saves programs in the state be on the mailing list for the quarterly financial newsletter?
A— Yes, contact Nancy Register to be added to this list. It also is recommended you sign up as a saver yourself, so you see exactly what program participants are receiving. The welcome letter for Savers now includes a reference to Cooperative Extension.
Q— Can I write a $1,000 grant to CFA to get motivational items for our America Saves programs (such as piggy banks) or to support transitioning Money2000™ participants to Savers?
A— The purpose of the $1,000 grant is to assist those extension educators who are planning and implementing level 3 campaigns. America Saves wants to support you in these efforts. Within the context of a level 3 campaign, you can spend the money however it is needed. CFA has also been funding proposals from a state or region (but not individual counties) for expenses associated with transitional marketing of America Saves to prior enrolled MONEY 2000 program participants. Simply use the same form as for level 3 Campaign Challenge Grants found in the America Saves Guidebook for extension educators. Proposals should have a strong marketing plan and motivational component, as well as evidence of collaborative partners.
Q—In preparing the marketing materials for a state, county, multi-county, or city Saves effort, would it be good to say “name of location Saves: A member of the America Saves?”
A— It is correct to call your local work “name of location” Saves. There is no “membership” in America Saves. You may say “offered in cooperation with America Saves.” Unless you are doing a level 3 campaign, you will want to use the term “America Saves.” CFA provides customized material—brochures, posters, membership cards—for level 3 campaigns only. Please refer to Table 1 of the America Saves Program Guidebook . CFA is referenced in the brochure. There is no requirement to refer to CFA in any marketing materials.
Q— How do we get reports of the Savers we enrolled through efforts by Cooperative Extension?
A— Reports are available by contacting Nancy Register. Currently, data is available for the number of savers enrolled by state and zip code, not by county. Brochures are being reprinted by CFA that ask for a county of residence to facilitate data reports by county. Savers are credited to the America Saves/Cooperative Extension partnership when the tear-off form on the Cooperative Extension brochure is received in the national office. Some educators have had better response by collecting sign-ups at the end of a meeting, instead of counting on participants to send in the forms themselves. CFA is also working on adding a field in the Web-based sign-up that references Cooperative Extension.
Initiative contacts need to ask Nancy Register for enrollment numbers for their state and then enter those figures into the FSLL evaluation database. Names and addresses of enrollees are only available from America Saves for level 3 campaigns. These groups have their own logon and password so they can enter their own data. Whatever method is used to collect data, it needs to be described in IRB approval requests, and if the method changes a revision to the protocol needs to be made.
Q— Has anyone collected data on the front end rather than waiting to receive it from CFA / America Saves?
A—Several states have reported that they are establishing databases and will use the data for research and marketing purposes. One state produced a sticker that automatically forwards the America Saves form directly to the county office.
Q— For those states that face human capacity issues, how can they start America Saves with very minimal support?
A— These states can consider level 1 participation. Please refer to Table 1 of the America Saves Program guidebook.
AARP Legal Checkup Program
Q— Can other attorneys or paralegals participate without signing up with the AARP Legal Services Network (LSN)?
A— NEW. . . as of 11/25/03 . . . No. You must use a LSN-approved attorney.
Q—What about the age restriction of 50?
A: Anyone of any age can attend a Legal Checkup seminar.
Q— When will the state-specific workbooks for program participants be updated?
A— NEW. . . as of 11/25/03 . . . Updates of the state-specific sections of the AARP Legal Check-up workbooks are no longer available. Working with an AARP Legal Services Network approved attorney, you may continue to use the current materials as long as they comply with your state's laws. When state-specific information is no longer in compliance, you may use only those core materials developed by AARP that are not state-specific. If you provide your own state-specific update, the material may not be labeled as published by AARP. Any state-specific update provided by the Cooperative Extension Service that is delivered along with AARP Legal Check-up core materials must feature the following disclaimer prominently on the workbook: Any state-specific information contained in this workbook was prepared by _______ and reviewed by________. The Cooperative Extension Service takes full responsibility for the accuracy of the information.
Q— How do we prevent attorneys from recruiting our Extension Legal Checkup participants as clients?
A— Since we now must work with LSN-approved attorneys, they must adhere to guidelines specified by AARP.
Q— Why would a county extension agent want to collect and enter program evaluation information into the FSLL initiative's national online database?
A— The FSLL National Initiative was developed through the efforts of a lot of individuals across the country who saw financial management and planning for later life as a major national issue and saw a need for expanding the level of extension educational programs in this area. These individuals worked together as a team to develop the initiative into a major educational programming effort that has been able to provide extension educators across the country many resources and much support that otherwise would not have been available. In order to continue to provide these resources and services, as well as to provide additional resources, the FSLL initiative team must demonstrate the scope and impact of programs in the initiative to NIFA, to initiative collaborating partners and other sources of resources (i.e., dollars). The main way that we can demonstrate and document the outcomes and impacts of the FSLL initiative is through the program evaluation and accountability data provided by the counties and states. By providing these data, Extension educators are helping the initiative to survive and thrive, which in turn helps to provide additional resources back to the county and state educators. Reporting program results to the FSLL database is important! County agents/educators are also encouraged to use the information that is collected through FSLL program evaluations for their local reporting and accountability purposes. This information can be a valuable accountability tool at the local level. Using the resources and ideas provided through the FSLL initiative, agents have the opportunity to really demonstrate the value and impact of these programs to local officials, program partners, and the general public. When this information is compiled with other counties at the state level, there is evidence that can be used for state-level accountability purposes as well. This is one situation when all partners in the extension system can truly benefit through each other's help.
Q— How do I access the FSLL online evaluation database?
A— Each state was given the option of deciding how data from that state would be entered into the national FSLL database. The identified FSLL initiative contact(s) in your state can provide you with information as to how data from programs in your state are being collected and entered and who has responsibility for entering data. Information related to evaluating FSLL-related programs can be found in the Evaluation section of the FSLL Web site. Go to the Educators page and select Evaluation. For additional information about evaluating FSLL programs, contact Rich Poling.
Q— Are there any FSLL indicators that track participants' "behavior changes?"
A— Yes, there are a number of FSLL initiative indicators that deal with behavior changes of program participants. For each of the behavior indicators, there are two sub-indicators, one to report the number of participants who report that they "plan to" change the specific behavior or adopt recommended practices and another sub-indicator to report the number of participants who have reported "actual" changes in behaviors or "actual" practice changes. The desired data are those that indicate actual changes in participant behavior and adoption of practices as a result of FSLL programs.
Q— Is there a way to break out FSLL data in the FSLL Program Evaluation and Accountability Database by county? If not, are there plans to add that feature to the national database?
A— Originally, the ability to break out data by county/parish was not a feature of the FSLL database. However, due to the number of requests that came in asking for that capability, an optional coding feature was added to the database entry screen that allows for data to be identified to a county or parish. If an individual wants to have data being entered into the system identified for a particular county/parish or any other sub-state unit, a local code can now be entered for those data. The states have been given the flexibility to develop a state-specific coding system for identifying data to the county or parish level. For information about whether a state has a county/parish level code system for data entry to the FSLL database, contact your state's FSLL contact person. Remember, the use of the county/parish level code for data entry is optional for states. Check with your FSLL contact person to see if your state is using this feature. Even with the county/parish level coding system in place, county extension educators are still encouraged to develop a reporting format for their own use based on the FSLL indicators in the online database. This format could be in the form of a simple spreadsheet or database created at the county level using software already available in the county office (such as MS Excel, QuattroPro, MS Access, etc.) or even a paper form created using a word processing software (such as MSWord, Corel WordPerfect) to record evaluation results for the appropriate FSLL indicators. (See the next question and response.)
Q— Is there a template report that can be used for tracking FSLL program evaluation data?
A— As a result of several requests for a way to help extension educators track FSLL-related program results, especially at the county level, a template has been developed for manually recording data for the FSLL initiative indicators. The template, in a word processing format, is an easy way to keep a record of program outcomes and impacts that can be summarized by county agents/educators for use in their own reports and for other accountability purposes. The template will also be helpful to use as a guide when entering data into the online national FSLL database. The template was distributed to all FSLL initiative contacts. To get a copy of the template, contact the FSLL initiative contact in your state. There have also been several requests from initiative contacts for a way of retrieving their states' data from the database. We will be developing a results report function within the database to provide states the opportunity to retrieve their own information and national totals from the database.
Q— How do I access the database?
A— Each initiative contact has a user name and a pass code to access the database http://fsll.uaex.edu/. If you are a new FSLL Initiative Contact, or need a reminder of your user name and pass code, please contact Rich Poling.
Q— Is there a beginner's packet for people who are new to the FSLL initiative?
A— Everything you'll need is on the FSLL Web site. If you have questions, contact Kelli Jo Anthon, program assistant at NIFA.
Q— Does everything we do in extension personal finance education focus on the FSLL initiative?
A— No, the purpose of an initiative is to focus on a specified need and a target audience. By putting boundaries around our work, we are better able to report successes. For example, important work with youth personal finance education does not fit under the initiative.
Q—"Financial Security in Later Life," a Cooperative Extension initiative which includes a toolkit of educational programs developed by a multistate team, now is being implemented and evaluated on a state-by-state basis. Is this considered multistate programming, and if yes, how can the financial contributions of each state be accounted?
A— Yes. Use of the toolkit is considered multistate programming and does meet the definition of a "multistate extension activity" as defined in the Administrative Guidance for Multistate Extension Activities and Integrated Research and Extension Activities. However, institutions that are subject to the "multistate extension" requirements of section 105 of the Agricultural Research, Extension, and Education Reform Act of 1998 (AREERA) may only use Federal expenditures (that is, Smith-Lever Act Section 3(b) and (c) funds) to meet their AREERA Section 105 requirements.
Q— Is there a way to provide the Critical Conversations handout about long term care in another format other than PDF? Can source files be made available to states to make changes?
A— The Critical Conversations curriculum is provided on the website in PDF format to help maintain the consistency and credibility of the documents as developed. States are encouraged to add state-specific information as suggested in the facilitator's guide via addendums or additional documents. If there are other reasons to need the curriculum in a different format please contact Marlene Stum.
Q— Is there an efficient way for all states to communicate with each other regarding individual state program updates, new ideas, success stories, questions about FSLL, issues, and concerns?
A— A “Later Life Line” link for the FSLL Web site has been suggested as a means for educators to communicate with each other about what is going on within each state. This would provide a way for everyone to post and receive new and current information on a regular basis through a “threaded” discussion. Also, it has been suggested to put a link to a U.S. map on the educator side that includes links to each state's FSLL Web site or program-specific Web page. This is currently being developed. A search engine for FSLL is located on the home page of the web site and is an efficient tool for educators to use. The “Later Life Line” is being discussed and researched as a possible addition to the FSLL Web site.
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