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Two-Generation Approach to Poverty Can Make a Difference in Wisconsin

Photo: A new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows more than 20 percent of Wisconsin children are living in poverty, and suggests a two-generation approach that addresses family-supporting jobs for parents and high-quality early education for children is necessary to break the cycle.  Photo credit: Cliffdale Elementary School/Wikimedia commons
Photo: A new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows more than 20 percent of Wisconsin children are living in poverty, and suggests a two-generation approach that addresses family-supporting jobs for parents and high-quality early education for children is necessary to break the cycle. Photo credit: Cliffdale Elementary School/Wikimedia commons
November 12, 2014

MADISON, Wis. - A new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows more than 20 percent of Wisconsin children are living in poverty, and suggests a two-generation approach is necessary to help parents and children thrive. Ken Taylor, executive director of the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, explains the two-generation concept.

"Focusing on family economic success, which is through family-supporting jobs for parents," says Taylor. "How do we connect parents with those family-supporting jobs and support them in that effort, and promote high-quality education experience starting in the early years."

Taylor says the new report shows Wisconsin in the middle of the pack of states.

"Which is not quite as good as we usually look when we're looking at the child well-being rankings we often look at," he says. "So we have a little more distance when we look at this two-generation approach, in part because of the challenges we have in our economy in the upper Midwest."

Taylor says the private sector, government, communities, and neighbors all must work together to promote long-term economic stability for parents and ensure all children get a high-quality education.

The report shows in nearly half of Wisconsin's low-income families with young children, no parent in the home has year-round, full-time employment. Taylor says our collective future depends on changing that picture.

"It's not just the right thing to do for kids and families but it's an economic imperative," he says. "We're not going to be a successful 21st century economy in Wisconsin if we don't have the future workforce that is ready to be our employees of the next generation."

According to Taylor, policies are needed that support expansion of job-training and educational programs for parents and for the private sector to make sure parents have flexibility at work to attend to the critical job of parenting.

"If we're working on supporting employment and supporting jobs there are things we can do that will also support early learning and vice versa," he says. "So these aren't in isolation and that's what the two-generation approach is all about."

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI