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New Anti-Poverty Toolkit Offers Dual Treatments

To break the cycle of poverty, a new Annie E. Casey Foundation report recommends providing tools for better jobs for parents, while also providing access to quality early childhood education. Credit: U.S. Dept. of Education.
To break the cycle of poverty, a new Annie E. Casey Foundation report recommends providing tools for better jobs for parents, while also providing access to quality early childhood education. Credit: U.S. Dept. of Education.
November 13, 2014

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Thousands of Arkansas children are growing up in low-income households.

At least 119,000 households with young children are considered to be low-income, and parents don't have college degrees in more than 80 percent of those families, thereby hampering their earning ability.

A new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation says it's time to take a new approach to lift children out of what typically becomes a cycle of poverty, and recommends integrating programs for children and programs for parents - calling it a "two-generation" solution.

Patrice Cromwell, director of strategic initiatives at the Casey Foundation, calls it "common sense."

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

Casey says for too long, the methods aimed at reducing poverty have focused separately on children and families, instead of their interrelated needs. "Two-generation" programs provide access to high-quality, affordable child care, while also offering education and job training for parents.

According to Cromwell, the recent approval of raising the minimum wage in Arkansas will help. She says the goal is financial stability, which is connected to better education outcomes for kids, as well as improved physical and mental health.

"If we can help families become more stable, it leads to lower family stress," she says. "And it increases the opportunity for stronger parent-child relationships."

One of the report's recommendations is work flexibility. The report notes that most low-wage jobs do not allow for schedule changes that reflect the needs of families, or make it possible for parents to further their education.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - AR