Thursday, September 17, 2015

Washington Featured for Inter-Generational Services: Supporting the "Whole" Family

In a recent article published by the National Governor's Association, the topic "intergenerational poverty" and how lawmakers can help provide essential services for parents and children was featured.

Key anti-poverty strategies in communities that feel the effects of generational poverty (poverty that involves multiple generations, also known as the "Cycle of Poverty") include:

  • helping low-income parents find work that provides family-sustaining wages, 
  • fostering children’s school educational success, and 
  • providing the necessary family support services.
The article highlights how important "two generation" strategies are for low-income families. This is something that DEL spends some time on, for example, within the home visiting program, there are services targeted specifically to parents and caregivers. To read more about the current state of home visiting, check out our recent blog on the topic: Home Visiting Spotlight

In the article, programs and states across the nation are commended for thinking of the whole family, instead of just programs and services that benefit kids.
"Experience suggests that two-generation strategies for low-income families hold promise when services—not just referrals—are provided to both generations, and when the services are intensive enough and of sufficient quality to produce positive outcomes."
By providing leadership and fostering collaboration across all state agencies (DEL, OSPI, DSHS and more--read more about the Washington Early Learning Partnership here: Washington Early Learning Partners Sign Joint Resolution) that influence low-income children and families, lawmakers can "develop innovative solutions for promoting the well-being of children and improving family economic stability."

One example that the article cites is the Community Action Plan (CAP) in Tulsa, Oklahoma. 
CAP Tulsa employs multiple programs that aim to prepare young children for educational success and increase the employability, earning potential, and parenting skills of their parents. CAP Tulsa coordinates and co-locates high-quality early childhood education with family financial, career-training, and health services. CAP Tulsa’s Career Advance program provides Head Start and other low-income parents with training in the health care sector, with the goal of helping them secure a good job with a family supporting wage while filling a critical workforce gap in the local economy.
While two-generational services are not new to the U.S. (the War on Poverty policies announced in 1965), there have been a consistent number of programs that do not receive legislative follow-through. The article suggests learning from past mistakes with these programs and celebrating programs that are currently working in several states. Washington was one of the featured states, as the article cited:
"Washington State has launched a program that uses Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds to provide home visiting services supported by strong evidence of effectiveness to families receiving TANF cash assistance. The program will track child and family well-being outcomes as well as parental employability."
Adopting a two-generation lens to serving low-income children does not necessarily require new programs and policies; rather, lawmakers can focus on strengthening links among existing programs toward a common set of goals for low-income children and families.The article warns:
"Lawmakers should be wary about assuming that two-generation strategies will work without significant attention to the quality of the services each generation receives and to the likelihood that those services will lead to improvements in families’ economic well-being."
Studies show that the well-being of low-income children is tied closely to "their families’ economic stress and overall economic well-being." Strategies that involve both parents or caregivers and their children have great promise to aid in overcoming inter-generational poverty.

To read the article, go here: States Employ Two-Generation Strategies...

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