Over 1.4 million youth ages 15-24 are out-of-school and out-of-work (OSOW) and raising dependent children. Unless communities offer alternative pathways to connect these young parents with the ladder of opportunity, many of these young families will not be able to achieve financial independence. Programs that use a two-generation approach address the developmental needs of young parents and their children simultaneously, increasingly the likelihood that both parents and children will have better long-term outcomes.
The National Human Services Assembly released a new report, “Breaking the Cycle of Poverty in Young Families: Two-Generation Strategies for Working with Disconnected Young Parents & Their Children.” The report identified best practices and documented the successful outcomes of 32 organizations running two-generation programs.
Many of the programs use a two-generation approach to reconnect parents with the ladder of opportunity while shielding their young children from the negative effects of growing up in an environment of poverty. These programs re-engage young parents in education and/or work while nurturing the parent-child bond. Strengthening the family unit is the goal of these programs, and connecting them with social, economic, and community supports is key.
Providing these young parents with the skills and resources they need to raise their young children means coordinating and collaborating across individual organizations and programs that provide just pieces of the holistic support these families need–a complex task for both the organizations running two-generation programs and the young parents seeking these supports on their own.
Some recommendations that came out of the study include addressing systems-level barriers to two-generation approaches–including breaking through funding silos. The study also acknowledges how the widespread social bias against teen parents negatively impacts the support and resources they are provided and feel comfortable seeking. Expanding the availability of child care, especially in schools and at the workplace, along with improving the quality of jobs that employ young people, were also some solutions identified by the study.