The Promise of Two-Generation Strategies: Lessons from the Field
(Family and Child Policy)
Friday, November 13, 2015: 10:15 AM-11:45 AM
Merrick II (Hyatt Regency Miami)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Roundtable Organizers: Susan Popkin, Urban Institute
Moderators: Cynthia Guy, Annie E. Casey Foundation
Speakers: Grace Tipton, JBA Associates, Molly Scott, The Urban Institute, Amoretta Morris, Annie E. Casey Foundation and Lori Severens, Ascend at the Aspen Institute
There is increasing interest from policy makers, practitioners, and scholars in the potential for two-generation service models as an effective strategy for breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty. Traditionally, most social service programs focus either on low-income children, e.g. Head Start or school-based interventions, or adults, e.g. employment or training interventions. But decades of research have shown that the results of these single-focus interventions are generally modest and that too many families remain in deep poverty and stuck in chronically disadvantaged, racially segregated and chronically violent communities (Sampson 2012, Sharkey 2013).
Two-generation models are designed to address the multidimensional aspects of family poverty and seek to intentionally integrate services for children with services for their parents with the goal of “moving the needle” for both. Nationally, two-generation models have largely grown out of structured programs like Head Start or Workforce Development and sought to align or coordinate with other structured programs (Scott, Falkenburger et al. 2013; Chase-Lansdale and Brooks-Gunn 2014). However, in practice, these models often have trouble clearly articulating family goals and tend to revert back to focusing on individual program goals that may compete with each other and often do not align with the most important needs and priorities of the families themselves (Chase-Lansdale and Brooks-Gunn 2014; Gruendel 2014), making it difficult to achieve sought-after multiplier effects (Sommer, Chase-Lansdale et al. 2012).
While there is a resurgence of interest in two-generation models, there is little evidence about what it takes to successfully implement an effective program, or what such a model looks like on the ground. In particular, we need to know more about what true service integration looks like, why and how it matters for families, and the critical role of the case managers or coaches in ensuring that services are appropriate and mutually-reinforcing. This roundtable will delve into these issues drawing on the research findings on the early implementation experiences of three very different two-generation models, reviewing their initial theories of change and then examining how the programs are actually grappling with implementation and service integration on the ground. These models include: the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s two-generation initiatives-- Family Economic Success-Early Childhood (FES-EC), which builds on the platform of Head Start, and Family Centered Community Change (FCCC), which leverages existing place-based initiatives like Promise Neighborhoods; and The Urban Institute’s Housing Opportunities and Services Together (HOST) Demonstration, which uses public and assisted housing as a platform for providing intensive services to vulnerable families. The panel will draw lessons for the field, drawing on the knowledge and experience of Aspen’s Ascend Initiative, which has taken the lead in promoting two-generation strategies.