Study proves CDF has long-term benefits for grassroots children
The report of the “Study on the Longer Term Development of Child Development Fund Project Participants” (the Study) commissioned by the Labour and Welfare Bureau was released. The results indicated that the three key components of the CDF projects, namely Personal Development Plan, Mentorship and Targeted Savings, could effectively enhance underprivileged children’s ability in resource management and future planning, expand their personal networks and help them develop a persistent savings habit. These benefits could enhance their academic and career development, and are very important for their future success and critical for combating poverty.
The Study, conducted by the Department of Social Work and Social Administration of the University of Hong Kong and Policy 21 Limited, aims to assess the benefits that CDF projects have brought to the participants and the longer-term influence on them. It examined the situation of CDF participants one to four years after their completion of the projects, comparing them with non-CDF-participants from similar family and economic backgrounds and of about the same age as the CDF participants (“the Comparison Group”). The researchers also conducted in-depth interviews or focus group discussions with participants who had completed the projects, mentors, parents and project operators.
The Personal Development Plan raises the self-expectations of underprivileged children and the level of hope for their future
The Personal Development Plan component of the CDF projects motivates the participants to set their own targets and put their goals into actions. This learning process helps them develop a positive future orientation (i.e. a person’s motivation and thoughts, plans, and feelings about the future), which encourages them to put a greater value on their future and to actively improve themselves so that they may accomplish their ambitions.
The results of the Study indicated that the CDF participants had greater motivation and pleasure in learning and studying, as compared with the Comparison Group. The results of the questionnaire survey revealed that the CDF participants’ self-rated motivation for studying was significantly stronger than that of the Comparison Group; and the level of agreement with the statement “learning can make me happy” reported by the CDF participants was significantly higher than that reported by the Comparison Group. Moreover, the CDF participants had higher academic expectations. Eighty percent (80.1%) of the CDF participants expected to gain a bachelor’s degree or above while only about sixty-five percent (64.3%) of respondents from the Comparison Group had the same expectation.
People who are hopeful about their future tend to view barriers as challenges to overcome and will give thoughts to use different means to achieve their goals. The future orientations of both the CDF participants and the Comparison Group were assessed using the Hope Scale and the results showed that the CDF participants had significantly higher levels of hope for their future.
Furthermore, the Study found that the CDF participants had a smaller number of problematic behaviours than the Comparison Group. The CDF participants reported less hyperactive behaviour, emotional problems, conduct problems, peer problems and truancy. The results of the Study in this respect confirmed that the CDF participants had greater motivation and better planning for their own future on the one hand, and on the other hand, they also indicated that the CDF participants demonstrated greater ability to enhance their competitiveness in the job market in future.
Mentorship helps expand underprivileged children’s personal networks and strengthen social support
Good personal networks and social support help enhance a person’s human capital and the future career development. The Mentorship component of the CDF projects provides participants with opportunities to develop non-familial relationships with adults and to expand their personal community networks. The Study made a comparison between the CDF participants and the youngsters in the Comparison Group who had not taken part in any mentorship programmes. It was found that the CDF participants reported significantly higher levels of social support from family, friends and significant others. They also displayed higher levels of positive exploration of and commitment to their future education, jobs and careers.
Targeted Savings help develop a persistent savings habit
The Targeted Savings component of the CDF projects helps CDF participants accumulate savings in order to be better prepared for implementing their personal development plans. If they can develop and sustain a long-term savings habit, this will become an important asset, one that may help underprivileged children escape the cycle of poverty and overcome their disadvantaged conditions.
Eighty-three percent of the CDF participants indicated that the CDF projects could help them develop a savings habit for their personal development. About three quarters (77.6%) of the CDF participants sustained their savings habits after they had completed the CDF projects, and the percentage is greater than that of the Comparison Group (43.6%). During the discussions or interviews conducted for the qualitative study, some CDF participants indicated that the Targeted Savings had made them understand the importance of a savings habit because it could help them achieve their long-term goals. Furthermore, some of the project operators reported that through attending various workshops and lectures on financial management, some of the CDF participants’ families were able to see the importance of forming a persistent savings habit and obtained a better understanding of financial management.
There were also positive changes in CDF participants' siblings
The CDF projects had also brought benefits to CDF participants' family members. About two-fifths of the CDF participants reported that though their siblings did not participate in the CDF projects, yet they had been positively influenced by the CDF participants: they had developed a persistent savings habit, had become more positive and optimistic, were willing to meet more people, had broadened their horizons and had formulated a vision for their future.
About the "Study on the Longer Term Development of Child Development Fund Project Participants"
In 2015, the Labour and Welfare Bureau commissioned the Department of Social Work and Social Administration of the University of Hong Kong and Policy 21 Limited to conduct the Study for assessing the benefits that the Child Development Fund projects have brought to the participants and the longer-term influence on them. Methods including questionnaire surveys, focus group discussions and in-depth interviews were adopted in the Study. In the questionnaire survey, 1,402 persons were interviewed, including 552 CDF participants, and 350 non-CDF-participants for comparison purpose. These non-CDF-participants were from low-income families and of about the same age as the CDF participants. They were eligible to but did not participate in CDF projects. The other interviewees were parents and mentors of the CDF participants as well as the project operators.