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It Takes "Two Generations" to Tackle NH Poverty

PHOTO: A new Annie E. Casey Foundation report finds New Hampshire could produce better outcomes for tens of thousands of low income families by taking a two-generation approach to poverty. Credit: @mlcliff
PHOTO: A new Annie E. Casey Foundation report finds New Hampshire could produce better outcomes for tens of thousands of low income families by taking a two-generation approach to poverty. Credit: @mlcliff
November 12, 2014

CONCORD, N.H. - A two-generation approach, is what a new report says is needed to help New Hampshire families and others across the nation break the cycle of poverty.

Ellen Fineberg, executive director with New Hampshire Kids Count, says the report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation recommends better coordination of the programs and policies that can help meet both educational and economic needs of families in the Granite State by looking at the whole family, not children and parents separately.

"Most parents want to succeed," Fineberg says. "We're looking for ways to help them do that, because we know the outcomes for kids, if parents aren't successful, can be really challenging."

Fineberg says of the 26,000 low income New Hampshire Families with young children, more than half are headed by parents who do not have a full-time job. The report says programs like the Earned Income Tax Credit and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program can help families get on their feet.

The vast majority of parents, 74 percent, in these lower-income New Hampshire families never obtained an associates degree or higher. Patrice Cromwell, director of strategic initiatives with the Casey Foundation, says better access to higher education is critical.

"Supporting parents in their ability to get and keep a job and be a strong parent," says Cromwell. "The same time as supporting kids to get a good start early in learning as well as a good start in school."

The report recommends integrating state and federal employment, early education and childcare programs, to allow parents better opportunities that benefit the entire family. Fineberg says communities, businesses, government and faith groups all need to be involved.

"Twenty-seven percent of New Hampshire children who grow up in poor families are at risk of developmental delays," she says. "We have to work on helping kids and helping parents at the same time."

She says for the process to work, parents and families also need to be part of the "solution conversation."

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NH