Governors are responsible for ensuring that state government systems meet the needs of low-income families as effectively and efficiently as possible. Two-generation policy strategies can make a range of human services goals more achievable, including advancing children’s educational success, adult credential attainment and workforce readiness and family economic mobility. State work in this area demonstrates opportunities for redesigning child- and adult-focused services to better serve low-income families as a whole. Parents and Children Thriving Together: The Role of State Agencies in Crafting a Statewide Two-Generation Strategy provides an overview of ways in which states can use two-generation strategies to reform state systems for the benefit of low-income families.
In an effort to help governors and senior state leadership improve coordinated service delivery to low-income families, the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) partnered with the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) to design “Parents and Children Thriving Together: TwoGeneration State Policy Network” (PACTT Network), a two-year technical assistance (TA) effort. The NGA Center and CLASP provide intensive TA, peer and financial support to participating state teams and governors in Colorado, Georgia, Minnesota, New Jersey and Oregon to achieve statewide systems change through the development and implementation of two-generation state strategies—that is, strategies that promote and work toward the well-being of children and their parents simultaneously. The partnership selected the states through a competitive application process based on a review of their proposed strategies.
States selected to become part of the PACTT Network work closely with the NGA Center and CLASP to develop and implement two-generation statewide strategies that build on gubernatorial interest, growing evidence and emerging policy opportunities in the workforce, human services, education, health, child care and early childhood education domains to better meet the needs of low-income families. This paper provides an overview of the system-coordination gaps that two-generation strategies seek to address for lowincome families. Subsequent publications related to this TA effort will include lessons learned and best practices.
A state policy framework for families
Two-generation strategies can also be applied at the state policy level as a framework for increasing connections between state-administered programs, and for working across state systems to more effectively improve the lives of low-income families. States interested in more efficient ways to meet the interrelated, often complex needs of low-income families are considering two-generation strategies to provide appropriate, coordinated, and seamless services to both the adults and the children in those families. Two-generation policy and system reform strategies offer the opportunity to affect many families at once, operating at a large scale compared to two-generation programs in individual programs or agencies.
A two-generation approach should seek to:
- Improve access to opportunities for improving family economic security.
- Improve access to quality care and education for children.
- Improve access to programs, services and networks to support parents and help them advocate for their children and support their healthy development.
State reform is not an easy feat. At the center of systems change is collaboration across agencies and sectors, which—although inherently challenging— can yield great rewards. States getting started on applying a two-generation lens to policy and systems reform can begin by clearly articulating their vision, goals and anticipated outcomes while identifying the steps required in the short and long terms.