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Lifting MN Kids Out of Poverty with Two-Generation Approach

PHOTO: A two-generation approach is needed for Minnesota kids growing up in low-income families to thrive, according to a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Photo credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service-Midwest/Flickr.
PHOTO: A two-generation approach is needed for Minnesota kids growing up in low-income families to thrive, according to a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Photo credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service-Midwest/Flickr.
November 12, 2014

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Improving the path to success for the Minnesota children growing up in low-income families requires an approach that not only looks at their needs but also the needs of their parents, according to a new report.

That type of two-generation approach is outlined in the report, which Peggy Flanagan, executive director of Children's Defense Fund Minnesota, said calls for high-quality early education for the kids.

"And we also need parents - (parents) need the skills and tools that help them to support their family," she said. "If we don't have economic stability for parents, we can't necessarily have good outcomes for kids. So, we think looking at the whole family is really the way to go."

The report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation also notes that the two-generation approach relies on better integration and coordination of programs and services, with the public, private and nonprofit sectors all working together.

In Minnesota, among the specific strategies suggested to help parents improve their financial stability is expanding child-care assistance. The program currently has a waiting list of thousands. and Joy Johnson, early-childhood specialist for Simpson Housing Services, said the cost of child care remains one of the biggest barriers for low-income parents seeking employment.

"If you have to have child care in order to be able to get a steady job," she said, "it kind of is a double-edged sword, because you can't have one without the other."

The latest figures show more than one-third of children in Minnesota are in low-income households.

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

John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN