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Report: Commonwealth Needs “Two-Generation” Help on Poverty

PHOTO: A two-generation approach to lifting the Commonwealth's children out of poverty is the recommendation of a new report that says opportunities for their parents must be widened. Photo credit: TaniaVDP/Pixabay
PHOTO: A two-generation approach to lifting the Commonwealth's children out of poverty is the recommendation of a new report that says opportunities for their parents must be widened. Photo credit: TaniaVDP/Pixabay
November 12, 2014

BOSTON - If the Commonwealth of Massachusetts wants to lift its children out of poverty, it should put its focus on their parents at the same time, according to a new Annie E. Casey Foundation Kids Count policy report.

The report says what's called a "two-generation" approach is needed to give families tools to get on a track to better economic opportunities. Patricia Cromwell, director of strategic initiatives at the Casey Foundation, said helping families become more stable leads to lower stress levels and increases the odds for stronger parent-child relationships.

"So, we're encouraging states and local practitioners to look at the whole family as they address both the parent and child needs together," she said.

About 143,000 of the Commonwealth's young children are growing up in low-income households.

The report recommends bringing together state and federal employment, education and child-care programs to collaborate in creating better opportunities for parents and children, which will in turn strengthen families.

Cromwell sees beneficial long-term gains for kids, both in terms of academic achievement and long-term earning potential.

"So, there's research that shows it makes a lot of sense to be thinking about the whole household in addition to the child," she said, "and this is why it's pushing us to create some more examples and show some premise."

Cromwell said the two-generational approach produces good outcomes.

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

According to the report, nearly half of the nation's young children are growing up in lower-income households.

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

Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - MA