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Call to Action in CT: Two-Generation Approach to Fighting Poverty

PHOTO: The Connecticut Association for Human Services provides financial education programs for adults. These efforts can be even more effective in tandem with programs that help kids in lower-income families, according to a new Annie E. Casey Foundation report. Photo credit: Barbara Steadman, CAHS
PHOTO: The Connecticut Association for Human Services provides financial education programs for adults. These efforts can be even more effective in tandem with programs that help kids in lower-income families, according to a new Annie E. Casey Foundation report. Photo credit: Barbara Steadman, CAHS
November 12, 2014

HARTFORD, Conn. - Connecticut will see better outcomes for children and families if it takes a new two-generation approach to fighting poverty, according to a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

It may sound like basic common sense, but Jim Horan, executive director of the Connecticut Association for Human Services, said most anti-poverty programs are not coordinating their efforts for both parent and child.

"Generally, the way programs work these days is they serve only kids, or only adults," he said. "The idea with two-generation strategies is to look at how those programs can serve parents and kids together, at the same time."

Of the 80,000 low-income families with young children in Connecticut, the Casey Foundation report found 80 percent of parents had no post-secondary education. The report includes multiple recommendations for creating policies that equip parents and children with the income, tools and skills they need to succeed - individually and as a family.

Horan said the two-generation approach can help leverage work with existing programs such as Head Start.

"And at the same time that you're providing Head Start services to children, you really look at what the needs of the parents are, in terms of workforce development, in terms of skill-building," he said. "By doing this, you can have a better return on investment, more 'bang for the buck.' "

Horan said the report also is timely because the Connecticut Commission on Children is about to release its recommendations to state lawmakers in January.

"They'll be looking at early-childhood programs, at workforce programs, at literacy and other programs that bring parents and children together," he said.

The results of the Casey Foundation report will be among the topics at a "Call to Action Forum" to be held from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. today at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.

The report, "Creating Opportunity for Families: A Two-Generation Approach," is online at AECF.org.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - CT