For many years, Li-Chen Cheng has been involved in developing and evaluating anti-poverty programs based on assets for many local governments in Taiwan. When Cheng, a professor at National Taiwan University, learned that President Tsai Ing-wen signed into law the Act on Savings Accounts for the Education and Development of Children and Teenagers, she was thrilled. 

“The most exciting thing for a policy scholar is to see something you work on for such a long time finally realized or practiced,” said Cheng, who earned her doctorate at WashU’s Brown School of Social Work. “It does not mean your work is done. In metaphor, it means a baby is just born, and raising it up just begins.”

Signed in 2018, the legislation encourages disadvantaged families to save for their children’s future by creating publicly subsidized saving accounts. Cheng has spent decades testing Child Development Accounts (CDA) and antipoverty measures in Taiwan and advising government officials. She is now working with national policy officials on how to increase enrollment for the accounts under the new act.

Cheng is a faculty director at the Brown School’s Center for Social Development, where she is recognized as a leader in developing CDA policy in Asia.