Two-Generation Policies

Drawing on its long history of advocacy for low-income children and adults, CLASP works at all levels of government to advance large-scale policy opportunities and system reforms that address the needs of children and parents together as a family. This “two-generation” approach to public policy helps children thrive and parents succeed at school, work, and caregiving—supporting economic opportunity for both generations.

The approach is based on strong research evidence that parents’ wellbeing, including physical and mental health and economic security, deeply influences children's development. Likewise, children’s wellbeing affects parents' ability to succeed in school and the workplace. Despite this evidence, public policies and the private economy too often divide the needs of children from parents, with potentially disproportionate implications for young parents and parents of color.

Developing two-generation policies requires disparate policy worlds to come together: those focused solely on children or on adults. It’s not easy, but it has great potential to improve the lives of low-income children and their parents.


States Drive Systems Change Through Two-Generation Strategies | October 2016

In partnership with the National Governors Association (NGA), CLASP announced that five states—Colorado, Georgia, Minnesota, New Jersey and Oregon—were selected to participate in an opportunity to create two-generation strategies for systems change. Two-generation strategies seek to simultaneously promote children’s learning and healthy development while promoting the parents’ success as both caregivers and breadwinners. Parents and Children Thriving Together: Two-Generation State Policy Network is funded by the Annie E. Casey, W.K. Kellogg, and Doris Duke Charitable Foundations. The five states will participate in technical assistance and peer networking to develop and implement a two-generation plan to achieve statewide systems change across a range of policy areas, including workforce development, human services, education, health, child care, and early childhood education. The ultimate goal is to reform policies and service delivery to better meet the needs of children and parents together.

TANF and Young Adults | Updated October 2016
Elizabeth Lower-Basch

Compared to previous law, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act has an expanded focus on disadvantaged young adults and supports closer partnerships between TANF and workforce programs.

Medicaid Expansion Promotes Children’s Development and Family Success by Treating Maternal Depression | July 2016
Alisa Chester, Stephanie Schmit, Joan Alker, and Olivia Golden 

This paper examines one important reason why access to Medicaid for poor adults is crucial for children’s healthy development. Other research has documented the reasons why Medicaid coverage matters so much for uninsured adults, both parents and non-parents: It reduces the rate of uninsurance, allows them to get treatment for medical and mental health problems, and stabilizes family finances. But it can be less obvious why adults’ coverage should matter for children, who were not targeted by the Medicaid eligibility expansions in the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Seizing New Policy Opportunities to Help Low-Income Mothers with Depression | June 2016
Stephanie Schmit and Christina Walker

This paper details information gathered through a scan of federal, state, and local efforts to seize this public health opportunity at a large scale, building on new policy provisions available through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), recent federal decisions and guidance, and local and state innovations. This brief drew upon interviews of child care and early education, health, and mental health stakeholders. Because the stakes for young children’s development are so high, it is important for stakeholders from these particular sectors to understand whether and how advocates and policymakers in the child care and early childhood sector could seize these new levers for change.

Two Generational Strategy Strategies to Improve Immigrant Family and Child Outcomes | December 2015
Helly Lee, Christina Walker, and Olivia Golden

On April 23-24, 2015, through the support of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, CLASP hosted a roundtable on Two-Generational Strategies to Improve Immigrant Family and Child Outcomes in Washington, D.C. The roundtable brought together 39 leading experts from early education, workforce development, postsecondary education, and immigration policy and practice fields to discuss two-generational strategies to support immigrant families and children. The roundtable and the brief highlighting the discussions from this event come a critical time, when immigrants and their children are a growing and significant part of the changing demographics of the U.S. and as time-sensitive opportunities around workforce development, early education and child care and immigration are at the forefront of policy making.

TANF and the First Year of Life: Making a Difference at a Pivotal Moment | October 2015
Elizabeth Lower-Basch and Stephanie Schmit

Americans overwhelmingly agree that children’s fate in life should not be determined by the circumstances in which they are bornBut children born into poor families are at great risk of persistent poverty during their childhood, and long-term negative effects on their health, economic success, and overall well-being. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) offers an important, large-scale, high-impact opportunity to achieve two-generational goals for parents and infants. However, state TANF programs often fall short of their potential.  Barriers to access, underfunded services, and work requirements that do not take the needs of infants into account hold parents back and make it harder for them to lift themselves and their infants out of poverty. This report suggests a new framework for thinking about TANF in the context of the first year of life, a vision for what a reformed TANF might look like and concrete steps that states can begin taking right now to move their programs in this direction.

An In-Depth Look at 2014 Census Data and Policy Solutions to Address Poverty | September 2015

According to the Census Bureau's new poverty and income data, 14.8 percent of Americans were poor in 2014, statistically unchanged from 2013. This in-depth fact sheet breaks down the data, especially highlighting the pervasive challenges for children and young adults, while offering a snapshot of the crucial role that strong public policy can play in improving the lives of millions of poor people.

Work Support Strategies Forum: Next Steps in Health & Human Services Integration After King v. Burwell | September 2015
CLASP and Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

This webcast, hosted by the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and Urban Institute, was a public forum discussing next steps in health and human services integration following the Supreme Court decision in King v. Burwell. With the Affordable Care Act (ACA) cemented as law, a panel of experts moderated by Louise Radnofsky of the Wall Street Journal will discuss new opportunities to connect health and human services for low-income people.

Webinar: How the New CCDBG Law Could Impact Low-Wage Workers | July 2015
Christine Johnson-Staub (CLASP) and Helen Blank & Karen Schulman (National Women's Law Center)

This webinar, co-hosted by CLASP and NWLC, covers critical information about the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) reauthorization law currently being implemented by states; looking closely at provisions of the new CCDBG law that most impact low-wage workers. 

Child Care Assistance: A Vital Support for Working Families | June 2015
CLASP's Child Care and Early Education Team

Quality child care enables parents to work or go to school while providing young children with the early childhood education experiences needed for healthy development. The Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) is the primary source of federal funding for child care subsidies for low-income working families.

Job Hours and Schedules: Implications for State Child Care and Development Fund Policies | April 2015
Christine Johnson-Staub & Hannah Matthews (CLASP) and Gina Adams (Urban Institute)

The Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF, also known as the Child Care and Development Block Grant or CCDBG) provides child care assistance for low-income families who are working or in education or training programs. CCDF allows states broad discretion to develop their child care assistance programs within federal guidelines. This brief discusses how recent trends related to job schedules and subsidy policies provide an opportunity for states to make changes in eligibility and verification policies. It also outlines potential state policy choices and the implications for how changes in the subsidy policies would improve the receipt and retention of child care assistance for low-income families.

An Investment in Our Future: How Federal Home Visiting Funding Provides Critical Support for Parents and Children | February 2015
Stephanie Schmit & Christina Walker (CLASP) and Rachel Herzfeldt-Kamprath (Center for American Progress) 

This document provides an overview on how states are using Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) funds to advance state home visiting systems.

Federal Legislation to Improve Job Schedules and Child Care Access for Low-Wage Workers | November 2014
Hannah Matthews and Liz Ben-Ishai

This fact sheet highlights key provisions that would improve working parents’ access to quality child care.

Jobs Schedules: Child Care and Subsidies | November 2014
CLASP, Center for Popular Democracy, and National Women's Law Center

Job schedules, particularly volatile schedules, can create and exacerbate challenges low-income parents face accessing child care and child care assistance. Parents who are lucky enough to secure a child care subsidy too often have a tough time holding onto their subsidy or their caregivers when they have erratic job schedules. This audio conference provides an in-depth discussion about the problems parents face at the nexus of volatile schedules and access to child care.

Thriving Children, Successful Parents: A Two-Generation Approach to Policy | July 2014
Stephanie Schmit, Hannah Mathews and Olivia Golden

This brief examines major federal and state policy areas to identify opportunities for two-generation, large-scale change that better support families as a whole and provide a more conducive environment for local programs to do their work with families.

Are Two Generation Strategies a Solution to Poverty and Social Immobility? Suggestions for Action | May 2014
Olivia Golden 

This presentation proposes new solutions for moving families beyond poverty, including a look at how two-generation strategies can create opportunity.

Scrambling for Stability: The Challenges of Job Schedule Volatility and Child Care | March 2014
Liz Ben-Ishai, Hannah Matthews and Jodie Levin-Epstein

This brief lays out the challenges many low-income parents face as they navigate the mazes of volatile job schedules and child care simultaneously.

Maternal Depression: Why It Matters to an Anti-Poverty Agenda for Parents and Children | March 2014
Stephanie Schmit, Olivia Golden, and William Beardslee

Maternal depression is a major public health problem that interferes with a parent’s capacity to help a child develop and stymies their efforts to escape poverty. This brief summarizes the reasons early childhood and anti-poverty advocates should seize this moment to address the problem and create pathways out of poverty for both generations.

Confronting the Child Care Eligibility Maze: Simplifying and Aligning with Other Work Supports | December 2013
Hannah Matthews (CLASP) and Gina Adams (Urban Institute)

This report helps states confront burdensome administrative processes that make it difficult for low-income families to get and keep child care benefits, and the cumulative challenges clients face in trying to access other benefits for which they are eligible (i.e. SNAP/Medicaid). Through concrete policy ideas and examples from states across the country, it offers an in-depth guide to help states not only simplify child care subsidy policies, but also to align child care policies with other work supports. With this information, states can identify strategies to improve access and retention of benefits, while improving service delivery and reducing administrative burden.

Leveraging Home Visiting to Reach Children in Child Care Settings | April 2013
Christine Johnson-Staub and Stephanie Schmit

This presentation, given at the 2013 Oklahoma Smart Start Conference in Oklahoma City, presented questions states may want to consider as they implement their home visiting programs, and suggestions for adapting their home visiting models to reach children and families in these settings. The presentation discussed examples of state and local home visiting initiatives that include both FFN and FCC and their strategies for partnering with other early care and education programs. Additionally, this presentation outlined policy implications and considerations related to licensing, child care subsidy programs, data systems and financing.



Supreme Court Should Allow Executive Action on Immigration to Go Forward in the Interest of Millions of Children | March 2016
Christina Walker and Hannah Matthews

In March 2016, an amicus (friend-of-the-court) brief was filed in the U.S. Supreme Court, on behalf of 76 children’s and educator organizations committed to safeguarding the healthy development, educational opportunities, emotional well-being, and economic stability of all children in the United States. CLASP, along with the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Federation of Teachers, First Focus, the National Association of Social Workers, and the National Education Association, led the development of this brief that argues the Court should lift the current injunction preventing implementation of President Obama’s executive action on immigration, known as the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) and the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programs.

Young Child Tax Credit Would Offer Help during a Critical Developmental Period | March 2016
Helly Lee

Leading up to Thanksgiving 2016, a rotating group of Louisiana advocates and religious leaders, organized by Stand with Dignity and the New Orleans Worker's Center for Racial Justice (NOWCRJ), engaged in a 15-day fast to protest Governor Jindal’s refusal to apply for a waiver of time limits that would leave about 31,000 Louisiana residents at risk of losing food assistance from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Using Two-Generational Strategies to Support Immigrant Families | December 2015
Christina Walker and Helly Lee

CLASP convened a high-level group of professionals for a two-day, intensive discussion of important opportunities in policy and practice to better serve immigrant parents and their children together. Participants in the roundtable reiterated the urgency of this moment to have critical conversations and make crucial connections between immigrant-serving and more “mainstream” organizations in order to seize promising policy opportunities.

Making a Difference for Poor Babies Using TANF: A Framework for States | October 2015
Elizabeth Lower-Basch and Stephanie Schmit 

Americans overwhelmingly agree that children’s fate in life should not be determined by the circumstances in which they are born. But children born into poor families are at great risk of persistent poverty during their childhood. A growing body of evidence shows that poverty in early childhood is a grave threat to children’s long-term health, well-being, and educational success, with persistent and deep poverty causing the most damage.

Coming to America: Immigrant Parents’ Jobs Don’t Allow for Investments in Children | June 2014
Liz Ben-Ishai and Christina Walker

Immigrants often leave behind their families, their communities, their cultures—their homes. It’s a wrenching experience, but parents make that sacrifice to give their children a better life in the United States. Yet a new study suggests that rather than finding a land of opportunity, immigrant families struggle to secure jobs that will allow them to invest in their children. Instead, they join a society marked by racial and ethnic inequality, and they too fall behind. Significant policy changes, including two-generation strategies that target both parents and children, are required to address growing inequities. 


Two-Generational Strategies Can Help Fathers, Too | March 2015
Olivia Golden

A great deal of the attention to two-generational strategies has focused on custodial parents, most of whom are mothers.  But while we know less about how the circumstances of non-custodial parents affect children, there is early evidence from research and practice that if non-custodial parents—who are often young men—do better in their own lives, they can also do better for their children, financially and emotionally.

New Opportunities for Governors to Advance Opportunity for All: Turning State-of-the-State Visions into Reality in 2015 and Beyond | January 2015
Olivia Golden

President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union address included bold proposals to strengthen the middle class. CLASP was pleased to see the president embrace a two-generation approach to helping lift poor and low-income families into the middle class—a strategy we have long advanced. However, he wasn't the only public official speaking on these issues. Governors of both parties set out agendas to achieve economic growth and opportunity for a broad swathe of state residents.

Supporting Working Families by Holding States Accountable: New Ideas from the Work Support Strategies Initiative | November 2014
Olivia Golden

A report from Work Support Strategies highlights an idea that is practical, well-supported by evidence, and costs states little or nothing: improving children’s health and nutrition by connecting them and their parents to the benefits—largely federally funded—that they are already eligible for but not receiving.  When children get help through these programs—Medicaid or CHIP and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP (formerly food stamps)—they are healthier in childhood and as adults, do better in school, and have better employment and earnings records. Children also benefit when their parents get help; for example, when parents have health insurance, their children go to the doctor more.

Poverty and Career Opportunities for Young Adults: The Census Poverty Report Dials Up the Urgency—And Congress Provides New Opportunities | September 2014
Olivia Golden

For young adults, living in poverty makes it harder to access high-quality education and training programs. When they do enroll, they are more likely to have to work excessive hours, prolonging their time to a degree and increasing the risk they won’t complete. In addition, young adults are more likely than older adults to have jobs with low wages and without key elements of quality, such as paid leave or consistent schedules.  These characteristics of work can produce an impossible cycle: young people can’t obtain good, steady jobs without schooling—and they can’t manage schooling without steady jobs.  This leaves them dangerously vulnerable for the future. Young adults who are also parents experience extremely high poverty rates that affect their future prospects and those of their children.

Helping Low-Income Families by Bringing Programs Together: Lessons from the Work Support Strategies Initiative | May 2014
Olivia Golden 

Most poor children today are in families with working parents. When working parents can’t get health insurance, nutrition assistance, or help paying for child care, they struggle to make ends meet.  No matter how good the program, it can’t achieve its goals if barriers prevent access for families. That’s why streamlining and integrating the delivery of key programs is crucial to ensure they reach families and ultimately reduce poverty.

What the Media Has Missed on the ACA: How it Helps Low-Income Young People Succeed in School, at Work, and as Parents | April 2014
Olivia Golden

Parents’ untreated physical and mental health problems affect young children’s development and contribute to disparities in school readiness and children’s later life success. For example, maternal depression, widespread among low-income mothers of young children, is highly treatable, but when untreated, it risks children’s cognitive and emotional development as well as their safety. The Affordable Care Act offers an extraordinary opportunity to contribute not only to young people’s own success but also to their children’s.

A Real Path to Prosperity: What If the Ryan Budget Followed the Evidence? | April 2014
Olivia Golden

A realistic proposal to create pathways out of poverty would double down on support for education, from early childhood through the post-secondary years. Today’s generation of children faces particular barriers to achieving critical 21st century skills. Large numbers are growing up in poverty, including one quarter of the youngest children. In the next few years, half of all children will be children of color who face long-term, systemic barriers in accessing high-quality education opportunities. The best evidence suggests that a path to adult success requires investing in children from the very earliest years all the way through K-12 education and beyond.

A Bold Agenda for Tackling Child Poverty: Without urgent action, too many of America’s next generation will grow up in economic distress | May 2015
Olivia Golden 

Today, both poor and near-poor children typically live in families where someone is working, yet still can’t make ends meet. Nearly 70 percent of poor children and over 80 percent of low-income children live in families with at least one worker. And families’ economic distress comes despite sharply increased work by mothers in their children’s early years. In 1975, fewer than half of all mothers were in the labor force, and only about a third of mothers with a child under age 3, compared to 70 percent of all mothers and more than 60 percent of mothers with a child under age 3 in 2013.

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