Family Economic Mobility Toolkit

Starting FEM Conversations

Listening to families talk about their financial situation and dreams is an important step in partnering with families as they set and make progress toward their family economic mobility goals. So how do you get started? Every conversation about family economic mobility is unique because every family is unique, so there isn’t just one way to initiate a conversation with a family around economic mobility.

Bring Strengths-based Attitudes and an Equity Mindset

Learn more about strength-based attitudes and advancing equity in family economic mobility conversations.

Take a look at the suggestions below to help you start conversations around economic mobility. As you build your relationships with families, you can adjust these steps to fit each family’s situation and decide what works best for you.

Prepare for the Conversation

Preparing your physical and emotional environment can help you get ready for the conversation, by allowing you to set aside other tasks and thoughts and center your focus on the family and their goals.

1. Clear your mind from distractions during the session.

  • If your mind is racing, jot your thoughts down on a piece of paper.
  • Make note of work you want to address after the meeting is over, so your mind can focus fully on the family during the meeting.
  • Take a few minutes to practice mindful breathing.

2. Apply strength-based attitudes.

  • Think of two strengths the family brings to the meeting and two strengths you bring
  • Identify a phrase to support your relationship with the family such as, “I am ready to enter into a partnership with the family,” or “The family is the expert, and I am the guide to the process.”
  • Spend a minute of self-reflection to explore whether you have any hidden biases that may affect the conversation.
  • Find time to connect with a supervisor in coaching or reflective supervision to work together toward a strengths-based mindset
  • Be willing to be flexible and know that it is OK not to get to all the items that may be on your agenda. Collaborate with the family on agenda setting, and follow the family’s lead

3. Prepare your space.

  • For virtual meetings, ask the family for the platform preference (e.g., phone, video), and test your technology in advance.
  • Silence your cell phone.
  • Clear away any clutter on your desktop, and/or close any applications or browser windows that are not essential to the meeting.
  • Gather any physical materials you will need for your meeting and organize them neatly on your desk, in the order you will reference them, and/or bookmark any virtual resources that you will need so you can easily access them. Be prepared to share resources and materials that are in the family's native language.

Use a Tool to Guide the Conversation

Using a worksheet or other guiding tool to start family economic mobility conversations with families can help you enter the conversation, regardless of your personal knowledge of family economic mobility topics.

Looking for a tool to kick off the family economic mobility conversation? The My Money Picture worksheet from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Your Money, Your Goals website gives families the opportunity to consider where they are now and where they want to go financially. You can ask the family to complete the tool on their own or you can dive into it together.

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Start the Conversation

  • “You mentioned wanting to make changes to your financial situation, but you aren’t sure where to start. I have a resource that might be helpful; would you like to know more about it?”
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Learn More with These Resources