Giving Compass' Take:
- Successful two-generation programs can help lift families out of poverty; however, there is little evidence to help improve educational outcomes for children.
- Why are two-generation programs more effective than siloed initiatives? How can donors help invest in poverty-reduction efforts?
- Read about Generation Hope, an education organization utilizing a two-generation model.
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Nearly one in six American children live in poverty. Being poor at birth increases the likelihood that children will remain poor. And because of deeply embedded structural racism, children of color born in families with low incomes are more likely to live in underinvested communities.
The nature of the labor market, the lack of affordable housing and child care, poorly performing schools, and inequitable access to services like broadband all make it harder for families to escape persistent poverty. Policies and programs like the Biden administration’s child tax credit aim to lift children out of poverty, but even if they are successful, families will likely need additional support to overcome the consequences—and trauma—of living in persistent poverty.
Over the past decade, there have been renewed investments in and research on two-generation programs that help parents and their children move out of poverty together. Today, there is general agreement that they help families more than traditional, siloed programs, but there is limited evidence on their ability to improve educational outcomes for children, economic outcomes for parents, and overall family well-being.
For example, an evaluation of the CareerAdvance program (PDF) in Tulsa showed that children in the program had better attendance and stronger language and math skills than children in traditional Head Start, and parents had positive workforce outcomes. But it’s the only major rigorous quasi-experimental research on the two-generation approach. And there’s growing recognition that where a family lives determines their health and economic outcomes, but literature on place-based, two-generation programs is sparse.
The Urban Institute’s research on two such initiatives offers important lessons for practice and strategies for evaluating these efforts.
Read the full article about two-generation initiatives by Susan J. Popkin and Marla McDaniel at Urban Institute.