Spotlight Exclusives

Two-Generation Approaches Start to See Growing Support from Both Sides of the Aisle

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Over the past year, a two-generation approach to fighting poverty has gained more attention in research and advocacy circles on both the left and right. The approach simultaneously targets both low-income children and their parents, seeking to more holistically address families۪ needs. While anti-poverty programs have historically been divided between those focused on children and those addressing the needs of parents, two-generation strategies are increasingly heralded as the new front in the War on Poverty.

Ascend, an initiative of The Aspen Institute, has been central to this movement and created a $1 million investment fund for organizations across the country working on two-generation approaches to tackle poverty. For instance, The Jeremiah Program in St. Paul, Minn.; Fargo, N.D.; and Austin, Texas, offers low-income children high-quality early childhood education while providing single mothers a place to live, life skills training, and support for college-track education. Similarly Casa de Maryland is expanding a “Learning Together” program that aims to educate parents so they can help educate their children. CareerAdvance in Tulsa, Okla., combines high-quality early childhood education with free community-college based education for parents to become certified nursing assistants, and ultimately registered nurses. Parents in the program learn skills ranging from budgeting and tax filing, to resum̩e writing and parenting education.

Two-generation strategies are also gaining traction among conservatives.  Robert Doar, poverty fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, testified before the Senate Budget Committee on how to improve the economic well-being of low-income working Americans. In his statement, Doar urged support for local intergenerational poverty programs that could serve as national or state-level models. He noted that by combining pre-k and early childhood education for children with work programs, parenting classes, fatherhood education, and marriage counseling for adults, these approaches “seek to create a better foundation for regular work, healthy homes, and smart children.”

This wave of attention is backed by a growing body of research and commentary. In September alone, several national organizations released reports highlighting successes in the two-generation movement.  Recent reports and video, like those highlighted below, demonstrate the impact of these programs and their potential as viable anti-poverty policies:

The Affordable Care Act: Affording Two-Generation Approaches to Health, The Aspen Institute, Sept. 2014

Considering Two Generation Strategies in the States, Working Poor Families Project, Sept. 2014

State Policies through a Two-Generation Lens, National Center for Children in Poverty, Sept. 2014

Mother۪s Education and Children۪s Outcomes: How Dual-Generation Programs Offer
Increased Opportunities for America۪s Families
, Foundation for Child Development, July 2014

Thriving Children, Successful Parents: A Two-Generation Approach to Policy, CLASP, July 2014

Helping Parents, Helping Children: Two-Generation Mechanisms, The Future of Children, Spring 2014

Spotlight Webcast: Olivia Golden, Executive Director of CLASP, Discusses the Two-Generation Approach,  May 2014

Commentary for Spotlight: Strengthening Adult Capacities to Improve Child Outcomes: A New Strategy for Reducing Intergenerational Poverty, Jack Shonkoff, Director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, April 2013

Momentum like this across the political spectrum may be a good sign as Congress debates solutions to fight poverty and promote opportunity.

Posted by Johnny
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