It Takes Two: More Support Emerges for Two-Generation Anti-Poverty Strategies

By Christine Johnson-Staub

Moving families out of poverty requires a more thoughtful approach than focusing solely on parents’ skills and employment, or providing children with high-quality child care and early education. The success or failure of a family relies on lifting up the entire family unit – helping parents prepare for and find sustainable employment, maximizing children’s healthy development, and supporting the economic security of the family as a whole. Because each of these pieces is critical to a family’s well-being, neglecting one piece of the puzzle can leave the whole family behind. Recent federal activity around workforce, child care, and home visiting policies provide many opportunities for policymakers to consider two-generation approaches to fighting poverty.

A new KIDS COUNT policy report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation makes the case for improving the prospects of families by addressing the needs of parents and their children simultaneously. Creating Opportunity for Family: A Two-Generation Approach describes the Foundation’s two-generation approach, which recommends ways to help equip families with what they need to thrive by connecting them to early childhood education, job training, and other tools to achieve financial stability and break the cycle of poverty.

The report recommends that state and federal policymakers:

  • Strengthen and expand workforce policies that reduce work-related stresses for families, including expanded tax credits, workplace flexibility, paid time off, and connections to necessary supports like child care;  
  • restructure existing publicly funded child- or adult-centered programs to focus on families more holistically; and
  • build on promising existing program models that create practical paths out of poverty for low-income families.

Parents and children face the challenges of poverty together. Policymakers must respond in the same way – with strategies that embrace the needs of parents and children and provide whole families with economic opportunity. For more on two-generation policy solutions, see also CLASP’s recent brief, Thriving Children, Successful Parents: A Two-Generation Approach to Policy.