Citing the need for a two-generation approach to overcoming poverty, a new policy brief by the Annie E. Casey Foundation identifies home visiting as a key strategy for addressing the needs of both parents and their children. According to the brief, a two-generation approach aims to simultaneously equip parents and their children with the tools they need to thrive while removing the obstacles that often keep them in poverty.
The brief advocates for a coordinated, intentional approach to increasing the incomes of poor families while supporting child development and educational success — critical to breaking the generational cycle of poverty. Linking programs that provide home visiting, job training and early education creates opportunities to address the needs of parents and children at the same time. “Home visiting programs can help families move toward financial stability by building relationships with organizations focused on employment and financial coaching,” notes the brief which recommends policymakers expand home visiting as part of a two-generational strategy to end poverty.
Low educational attainment by parents, lack of full-time employment and child care issues are factors that contribute to economic instability in families and threaten the health and development of their children. The median earnings of many low-income families cover just over half of the basic costs of raising children, according to the report. Key programs for working families, including the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), Children’s Health Insurance Program and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), can reduce or eliminate the gap between earnings and living costs. In 2013, nearly 350,000 children under age 6 – 27% of all children this age in Florida- lived in families with incomes below the poverty level (about $24,000 a year for a family of four). Thirty percent of children under age six were in low-income working families earning less than $48,000 a year.
The brief underscores the importance of engaging low-income parents in developing solutions to address their needs, focusing on communities of color which are disproportionately impacted by poverty, and creating partnerships between government, businesses and faith-based institutions.