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Report on Poverty: Let's Try Two-Generation Approach In Utah, U.S.

PHOTO: Working with parents and children together, rather than separately, may help advance efforts to end the cycle of poverty in Utah and across the nation. That's the finding of a new report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Photo credit: Utah Department of Human Services.
PHOTO: Working with parents and children together, rather than separately, may help advance efforts to end the cycle of poverty in Utah and across the nation. That's the finding of a new report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Photo credit: Utah Department of Human Services.
November 12, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY - Efforts to end the cycle of poverty in Utah may advance if policymakers focus on a two-generation approach that involves parents and children. That's the conclusion of a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Terry Haven, deputy director with Voices for Utah Children, says focusing on children and parents together may provide more long-term benefit than working with them individually.

"What's going to work and what really needs to work is a coordinated approach where we're looking at giving kids a good start with early education," says Haven. "But also giving parents the skills and tools they need to help them support their families. So we're looking at a dual-generation, or two-generation approach to ending poverty."

Haven says the report finds 142,000 Utah children ages five and younger are low-income, and a child raised in poverty is more likely to become an adult living in poverty, and also less likely to graduate from high school or remain consistently employed.

Haven says Utah's two-generation approach may be ahead of other states. She says the state's Intergenerational Welfare Reform Commission is already working with agencies to ensure quality child care and education are accessible for children while their parents are working or at job-training programs.

"They're looking at flexible employment plans, and preschool and kindergarten preparation, and partnering in the schools and doing GED's," she says. "Really taking families and making sure they're getting those wraparound services in the places where they are."

Haven adds, Utah's economy can also benefit because parents will likely miss less work if they have access to quality child care.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - UT