March 2015Vol. 16, No. 2Two-Generation Approach to Reducing Poverty
A new report puts forth an approach to promoting more positive program/service delivery and improved family outcomes by collaborating across agencies to address the obstacles and insecurity poverty places on families. Without a coordinated, whole-family approach to addressing the myriad challenges associated with poverty, the cycle of poverty from generation to generation is likely to persist.
In response to this dire need, the Annie E. Casey Foundation report Creating Opportunity for Families: A Two-Generation Approach describes an approach to lifting low-income families out of poverty by addressing the needs of parents and their children concurrently. The approach aims to connect families with early childhood education, home-visiting, job training, and other programs necessary to work toward financial stability and equip them with the knowledge and tools they need to thrive.
The report explores some of the many challenges low-income families face, including the following: (1) inflexible, unpredictable low-paying jobs; (2) lack of access to high-quality and reliable early child care and education; and (3) stress at home. It also highlights the challenge of agencies working in isolation. While many Federal, State, private, and nonprofit programs are in place to help low-income families, programs often cater to just parents or children. Also, these programs do not always consider whole-family needs. For example, if parents participating in government food assistance and child-care programs experience even slight income growth, income-based benefits essential to meeting basic family needs are threatened, such as child-care subsidies, the loss of which would leave families no better off than when they started.
Report authors examine the key components of a two-generation approach to strengthening families. These components include:
- Provide parents with multiple pathways to get family-supporting jobs and achieve financial stability.
- Ensure access to high-quality early childhood education and enriching elementary school experiences.
- Equip parents to better support their children socially and emotionally and to advocate for their children's education.
Report authors also present recommendations, broken down into multiple suggestions, for policymakers, businesses, and community leaders in their work to help whole families access the tools and develop the skills necessary to thrive. A number of infographics, data tables, and call-out boxes highlight the information contained in the report.
The Creating Opportunity for Families: A Two-Generation Approach policy report was developed by KIDS COUNT, a project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The report and additional related data and resources are available on the Foundation's website at http://www.aecf.org/resources/creating-opportunity-for-families/.