• December 2016
  • Vol. 17, No. 9

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State Efforts to Help Families Attain Lasting Well-Being

A new report on extensive and ongoing efforts by three States to help families break the cycle of poverty and achieve sustainable well-being offers lessons and opportunities for other States, according to the National Human Services Assembly (NHSA).

The Two-Generation Approach Framework: A Closer Look at State-Level Implementation was released recently by NHSA with funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The report looks at efforts in Utah, Colorado, and Connecticut to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty by providing low-income families with access to early childhood education and job training for achieving financial stability. The Two-Generation (Two-Gen) approach to family well-being, which focuses on both the children and parents together, is designed to build sustainable family foundations by providing high-quality and integrated services in early childhood education, elementary education, economic stability, and family engagement. The goal is to provide families with resources for overcoming the multiple challenges that can threaten stability, by ensuring access to quality daycare, education, job skills training, and financial help.

The report looks at how pioneers in the Two-Gen field—Utah, Colorado, and Connecticut—are implementing the Two-Gen practice and their implications for other States. NHSA chose to focus on these three States because they had established support for their Two-Gen projects and already had work underway. NHSA conducted interviews with State, local, and private sector stakeholders to gain a better understanding of the Two-Gen infrastructure emerging in each of the three States and how ongoing efforts in each might contribute to overall statewide systems change to help families achieve well-being and break the intergenerational cycle of poverty.

Utah's approach was initiated in 2012 by the State legislature, which enacted the Intergenerational Poverty Mitigation Act to identify target populations and strategies for increasing the coordination of services to families. Colorado launched its initiative in 2013 under its Department of Human Services and State policy changes and, at the same time, made more low-income families eligible for Colorado's child care subsidy program. Connecticut's Commission on Women, Children and Seniors identified the Two-Gen approach as a priority in 2013, and the State's General Assembly funded $3 million in 2015 for testing Two-Gen strategies in six pilot communities.

The following are among the report's recommendations for developing the Two-Gen approach:

  • Cultivate political leadership
  • Build program sustainability
  • Create State-level management and oversight
  • Establish State-level planning and implementation

The report, which features extensive details on each State's approach, is available on the NHSA website at http://www.nationalassembly.org/Uploads2/Resources/2GenFramework_Sept2016.pdf (836 KB).

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