It’s called CARE – Credit Abuse Resistance Education – and it aims to educate high school students on the fundamentals of financial literacy, including budgeting and saving money and the potential consequences of poor money management and credit card abuse.
The Kentucky Bar Foundation, the charitable arm of the Kentucky Bar Association, sponsors the program, and local attorneys volunteer their time to present the hourlong sessions to high school students.
“CARE is a unique program that’s all about the importance of being financially responsible,” said local attorney Tasha Scott, who coordinates the program for the Northern Kentucky Bar Association. “It’s an interactive, fun program designed for high school seniors that helps to get them on the right track before they graduate from high school and go off to college or enter the work force.”
Catching teens before they go off to college is the perfect time to talk about money and debt, Scott said. Once they’re out of high school, students are bombarded with credit card offers and start making decisions about loans, she said. The program addresses both – and outlines how they can potentially be hazardous to future credit scores if abused.
“We talk about the dangers of credit cards and consequences of racking up too much debt,” Scott said. “It all has to be paid back – with interest.”
The program also gives students some pretty staggering statistics, according to Dixie Heights High School senior Samantha Brown, including one that’s printed right on the cover of the CARE student booklet.
“It says that 43 percent of Americans spend more money than they make,” she said. “That’s a big percentage of people who are struggling with debt.”
The CARE program is based on an initiative launched by retired U.S. Bankruptcy Judge John C. Ninfo II, of Rochester, N.Y., who saw the need for a program aimed at preparing students for their financial future. The program has expanded since it began in 2002 and is now presented in all 50 states.
The CARE program was launched in Kentucky in 2008. It’s catching on here, and local
volunteers have been presenting the program in a growing number of high schools, Scott said.
For local schools, the benefits of CARE are twofold, said Barb Martin, assistant superintendent for academic support and student support services for the Kenton County School District. The program has been presented at both Dixie Heights High School and Scott High School.
“It’s a positive program for seniors,” she said. “The CARE program gives our students valuable information, and it’s presented by local professionals who serve as role models.”
For details about the CARE program, visit www.careinky.org.