Two-Generation Strategies Stand Out in Governor’s State of the State

During his State of the State address yesterday, Governor Hickenlooper highlighted the importance of two-generation strategies and programs for increasing economic mobility across Colorado by stating, “We lifted families out of poverty with a focus on two-generation solutions.” A small line in a big speech, but a giant step forward for a growing national movement focused on improving outcomes for families.

What exactly are two-generation strategies, and why are they so important for Colorado?

In our recently released Guide to Economic Mobility in Colorado we share how two-generation strategies are aimed at moving the entire family out of poverty and into economic stability. These strategies involve an intentional commitment to serving children and adults simultaneously, thus helping the entire family advance economically. Today, most programs focus on children or adults exclusively. As a result, low-income parents are often unable to access the programs, services, and training necessary for them to get ahead because the supports they need as parents are either unavailable or unaffordable. 

When we intentionally link adult education, job training, workforce development, and postsecondary education for low-income parents with quality child care and early childhood education for their children, both kids and parents positively benefit. Advancing this approach is important because it emphasizes long-term investments to build human capital for both children and adults. 

Looking at education through a two-generation lens, state investments in early care and education help parents invest in their own development through educational activities and further engagement in the workforce. Effectively serving Colorado’s children during their earliest years not only yields future societal savings, but also provides immediate support to parents. The evidence is clear that when both children and parents are engaged in education, the effects on low-income families moving out of poverty are even greater.  

Some prime examples of two-generation strategies currently underway:

  • The Strengthening Working Families Initiative (SWFI) at the Community College of Aurora and Community College of Denver, which helps parents train for and access jobs in high demand industries (Healthcare, Information Technology, and Advanced Manufacturing) while simultaneously assisting them in finding child care. The initiative also includes a “learning community” of key stakeholders from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors working to identify systemic barriers to child care for low-income parents in the Denver-Adams-Arapahoe region seeking employment and career advancement. The Bell is a member of the SWFI project team.
  • The Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Working Together Project in the San Luis Valley, through which parents can gain high school equivalency credentials, short-term postsecondary certificates, and workforce training while their children simultaneously receive quality care and services.
  • The Colorado Department of Human Services’ Child Support Services program, which has shifted it’s focus from a solely parent-centered enforcement and collection process to an approach that connects whole families with the resources they need to benefit both the parents and their children together.
  • The Valley Settlement Project in Carbondale, serving low-income families in the Roaring Fork Valley through a variety of integrated programs including high school equivalency preparation and English as a Second Language instruction for parents, as well as early learning, school readiness, and literacy experiences for their children. Their “El Busesito” (The Little Bus) mobile early childhood program is an innovative approach to providing early learning opportunities for children and using their parents as volunteers.  

The Bell is committed to ensuring all Colorado families have the opportunity to progress toward their goals and achieve economic self-sufficiency. Intentionally designed and delivered two-generation strategies and policies are a key part of making this a reality.

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