Nov. 12

A weekly publication of               11/12/2014

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Recent findings in brain science underscore this fact:the development of children and parents is inextricably linked. Parents gain motivation to succeed from their children and vice versa; their efforts are mutually reinforcing.

Dear Pat,

The War on Poverty began 50 years — two generations — ago, and while it has achieved much, poverty is still being passed down from generation to generation. One reason is that we have been trying to help low-income parents and children in separate ways.
Source: Ascend – The Aspen Institute, Top Ten for 2 Gen report introduction

Two-generation strategies are increasingly seen as better policy solutions for ending the adverse effects of poverty on children. Ebone Williams, of the New America Education Policy Program, highlights 2-gen programs that are making a difference in the lives of families.

How 2-Gen Strategies May Help Break the Cycle of Poverty

It is common for children to mimic their parents from birth, developing from imitated facial gestures into adopted behaviors and mindsets. But for children who grow up in low-income families, this common interaction may be detrimental to their future success. A recent story in The Washington Postprovides a grim exploration of how intergenerational cycles of poverty affect the American Dream, comparing America’s socio-economic ladder with a meritocratic system.

Research has documented the impact of a parent’s education, economic stability, and overall health on a child’s trajectory. The Washington Post study confirms this: Compared with their wealthy counterparts who obtain only a high school diploma, low-income children have lower odds of personal economic growth, even with a college degree. That’s because just as children are motivated by their parents’ success, they catalyze their parents’ desires for educational advancement and economic stability–so kids with low-income parents tend not to pursue higher-income jobs as often. Without opportunities to benefit both the parent and child, as to form a symbiotic relationship between the two, the cycle of poverty will remain continuous within low-income families.

To change this pattern, policies should focus heavily on early interventions that will benefit entire low-income families. The War on Poverty has made pivotal strides toward providing low-income families with opportunities for advancement. However, the fifty-year-old legislation and policies are no longer aligned with the needs of the diverse 21st-century family.

Two-generation strategies , a commitment to improve outcomes for children and parents simultaneously, offer a new direction for anti-poverty policies. (Other terms have been used, such as dual-generation. Here at New America we use the framing of the Family-Centered Social Policy Initiative.) Two-generation strategies can help avoid an imbalance of services provided to both parents or caregivers and their children. In an effort to build political will, a new report called Top Ten for 2Gen from Ascend, an Aspen Institute initiative to improve educational outcomes and economic stability, suggests its top 10 policy ideas and principles to advance two-generation efforts.

The top 10 policies to promote two-generation strategies:

The top 10 policies to promote two-generationstrategies:

1.      Help Head Start and Early Head Start fulfill their two-generationmissions by strengthening family supports and increasing theemphasis on parents, not only in their role as mothers and fathersbut also as breadwinners.

2.      Reform the Child Care Development Block Grant to increaseaccess to and quality of early childhood settings for children and toensure greater access to job training and education for parents.

3.      Increase efforts to support economic security outcomes inhome visiting programs.

4.      Promote cross-system collaboration and partnership amonghuman services agencies and institutions of higher education,especially community colleges, to increase bundled services andaccess to benefits for low-income students, many of whom areparents.

5.      Increase postsecondary education access and completionthrough institutional financial aid reform and policies that moreaccurately reflect the needs of enrolled student parents, a growingnational demographic.

6. Use the 2014 Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act(WIOA) to allow for state and local changes that enable two-generation support.

7.      Redesign Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)for 21st century families — mothers or fathers, married or single.

8.      Strengthen family connections through support and promotionof work opportunities for noncustodial parents.

9.      Leverage provisions of the Affordable Care Act to improveeconomic security and family health and well-being.

10.    Maximize opportunities for whole-family diagnosis andtreatment for mental health.

Early education leads the group’s Top Ten list, including focus on Head Startand the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program. Both programs have been beneficial for children from low-income families, but parents have not always been successfully recognized. So for those programs, a renewed focus on both generations may be in order.

Head Start should top the priority list for policymakers; after all, the half-century-old program embodies two-generation strategies. Head Start began providing quality early learning opportunities–and encouraging parent involvement through family wrap-around services–in 1965. In its report, Ascend recommends that it is time to build beyond these efforts, by strengthening family supports and increasing emphasis on parents. As guest panelist Mark Greenberg of the U.S. Department’s Human Health and Family Services Agency (HHFS) said at the report’s release event, parents play an integral role in children’s success. He stated that HHFS is mindful, and shares the same commitment as Ascend, of conceptualizing new modes of parent engagement and creating a balanced focus on parental employment within Head Start.

New America’s Clare McCann weighed in on the recently revised, soon-to-be-law CCDBG, arguing that it provides its own opportunities for two-generation efforts:

The new version of the law, although far from perfect, would unquestionably mean much-improved child care opportunities for low-income families.

This program is a huge plus for children from low-income families. But once parents get a foot in the door and start earning a slightly higher annual income, they can lose access to federal subsidies for child care. That means both a sudden spike in costs, and the loss of other support services available to parents who receive federal child care subsidies. Ascend’s policy strategy highlights the need for quality child care for children, but also the need for continuous support for parents. They propose increasing the income eligibility limits so that neither children nor their parents are negatively affected by modest career advancement. At the same time, though, the federal government needs to also help make sure that parents have high-quality options for their children, at the very least safe options.

Consideration of families’ needs could, and should, be a strong basis for the development of future policies, and could help lawmakers to create more impactful legislation.

Ascend’s report provides evidence that two-generation strategies have substantial support from community leaders, advocates, researchers, and lawmakers. That might mean there’s room for making them a stronger part of strategies designed to help break the cycle of intergenerational poverty. Parents and children should not be served separately; it is up to policymakers at all levels to keep this in mind while continuing to help more families break the cycle of poverty.

My personal obsession right now is how disconnected we are from what we really need to be talking about with poverty. We talk about work or training for parents, or we talk about early childhood for kids. But I don’t see how we can help the children without trying to help their parents as well. We have to have a serious national discussion about helping families together.
— Paul Krugman, Nobel Prize Winner and Columnist, New York Times

Thursday, November 13, 8:30am – 2:00pm, NH CAN Summit, Holiday Inn Concord Downtown, 172 N Main St, Concord, NH 03301, United States

Click here to see more events in New Hampshire!

The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is scheduled to expire in September 2015. If funding for CHIP is not renewed, as many as 2 million kids could lose their health coverage.

Emily Polk, Program Associate at the New England Alliance for Children’s Health blogs about a report from the Georgetown Center for Children and Families that provides a look at the uninsurance rates for children across the United States.

50 State Report: Let’s keep fighting for children’s coverage

Following years of decline, uninsurance rates for children are holding steady, according to a report that Georgetown Center for Children and Familiesreleased today. Their annual 50-state report provides a detailed picture of kids’ coverage at the state and national levels. In past five years, uninsurance rates among kids has dropped dramatically, resulting in only about 7 percent of children nationally remaining uninsured, largely thanks to the success of Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). In 2013, however, we did not see significant coverage gains for children; children’s uninsured rates held steady even as uninsured rates for many other populations decreased.

In particular, New England, a region that has historically excelled at insuring kids and keeping them covered, fared less well this year. Three of the six New England states (Connecticut, Maine and Rhode Island) even saw an increase in the rate of uninsured children.

The plateauing of insurance rates for kids nationally highlights the importance of protecting and promoting children’s coverage, especially at this crucial juncture for CHIP. According to the report, kids in families between 100 percent and 199 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL)—that’s $19,790 to $38,865 per year for a family of three—were the most likely to be uninsured. This income range represents many families served by CHIP. Funding is set to run out for the program in September 2015, and if Congress doesn’t act, an estimated 2 million children nationwide will become uninsured. Even for the kids who find other coverage options, recent research shows that these options would likely be less affordable and less geared to children’s needs than CHIP. At a time when insurance rates are holding steady, we don’t want to lose ground for children’s coverage, either in terms of quantity of kids covered or the quality of their coverage.

The 50-state report also has implications beyond CHIP. The fact that an overwhelming number of states haven’t seen improvements in children’s coverage highlights the importance of outreach and enrollment effortsfocused on kids, both to maintain their high insurance rates and to get every kid covered. These efforts to identify and enroll eligible kids and families, from in-person consumer assistance to raising parents’ awareness about coverage options, sustain children’s coverage at current levels and will continue to be vital as we enter Open Enrollment in mid-November.

This report not only shows us the gains in children’s coverage that we have achieved in the past five years, but also acts as a reminder not to take children’s coverage for granted. We have made significant gains for our children, and we must redouble our efforts to protect those gains and to continue enrolling more kids in coverage.

Here’s a look at the New England numbers from the Georgetown Center for Children and Families’ report:

# Uninsured
2011 Ranking
# Uninsured

New Hampshire


Rhode Island


MaryLou Beaver
New Hampshire Director
Every Child Matters Education Fund

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