Bound to Succeed: An Environmental Scan of Two-Generation Approaches to Education in Colorado | The Bell Policy Center

Bound to Succeed: An Environmental Scan of Two-Generation Approaches to Education in Colorado

Date: Oct 6, 2016

Our new research report discusses an important emerging strategy that helps low- to moderate-income families move out of poverty, known as a two-generation approach. Our research focused on a specific aspect of the two-generation model — one that intentionally links adult education, job training, workforce development and postsecondary education for low-income parents with early childhood education for their young children.

Research shows that children’s outcomes are closely tied to parents’ educational level and income, yet low-income parents are often unable to access education programs because the programs don’t provide needed support for them as parents. In our report, we looked at and highlighted some existing links in Colorado, identified barriers to links and recommended policies, practices and actions to improve links.

Click to view the full report

The Bell is a member of the Aspen Institute Ascend Network, a group of leading-edge experts and organizations working to influence two-generation policy and practice changes that increase economic security, educational success, social capital, and health and well-being for children, parents and their families. Photo provided by Clayton Early Learning.


Executive Summary

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.

Our research focused on a specific aspect of the two-generation model — one that intentionally links adult education, job training, workforce development and postsecondary education for low-income parents with early childhood education for their young children.

Our goal is to create policies to ensure that these linked services are available for low-to-moderate income families throughout Colorado. Linking parents’ and children’s education programs is important because children’s outcomes are closely tied to parents’ educational level and income.

Yet most programs focus on children or adults exclusively, so low-income parents are often unable to access education programs and workforce training because the programs do not provide needed supports for them as parents.

We began the process of policy development by conducting an environmental scan to determine what is currently happening in Colorado. Our environmental scan focused on identifying:

  1. Examples of existing links among these systems
  2. Barriers that inhibit developing strong links
  3. Policies that promote more and better links
  4. Practices and other actions that promote better links

Findings

We found that some good links currently exist between the education and workforce systems for adults and early childhood education systems in Colorado, including at family resource centers, the Colorado Community College System, the Nurse-Family Partnership, Colorado workforce centers, the Jefferson County Prosperity Project and Clayton Early Learning Head Start and Early Head Start Program.

However, for the most part, people in the systems serving adults and those in the early childhood education system do not have existing relationships, and the funding doesn’t support a linked model.

Additional and more flexible funding is needed to better serve the needs of families, and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) implementation provides an opportunity to develop links among systems. Better links would also exist if services were more family-centered and designed to serve broad needs.

Recommendations

  1. Convene a summit of representatives of these systems to develop better links among educational and workforce services for low-to moderate-income adults and children.
  2. Ensure adequate funding for family resource centers and the adult education system.
  3. Include coordinated services to help low-to moderate-income, low-skilled parents participate in workforce development programs as part of the refinement and implementation of Colorado’s state WIOA plan.
  4. Create a cabinet-level task force to address the child care needs of low-income parents of young children as the parents seek to advance their education.

View the entire report here. You can also download below.