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Devin D. Thorpe

Devin Thorpe

The National Human Services Assembly Announces Research Findings and Recommendations for Building Family Well-Being

‘Two-Generation Approach’ explores how ongoing efforts at the state level could help bolster outcomes for families in policy and programmatic areas like childhood education and economic stability 

Press Release – WASHINGTON, D.C., September 29, 2016 – The National Human Services Assembly (the Assembly) has released “The Two-Generation Approach Framework: A Closer Look at State-Level Implementation” funded by The Annie E. Casey Foundation. The report explores how three states–Colorado, Connecticut, and Utah–are developing and implementing a Two-Generation (Two-Gen) framework in their human service programs. The Two-Gen approach builds well-being by working with both generations of families simultaneously to support early childhood education, elementary education, economic stability, and family engagement.

“Building and maintaining family well-being is one of the most powerful ways to create the opportunity for everyone to reach their potential and fully contribute to our communities. We believe the success of the Two-Gen approach in these states can serve as a starting point for advocates and practitioners in other states to further policy and programmatic change through the Two-Gen lens,” said Lee Sherman, president and CEO of the Assembly.

Key Findings

The Assembly interviewed state and local stakeholders to gain a deeper understanding of the policies, systems, and structures supporting the Two-Gen approach. The findings demonstrate three distinct Two-Gen strategies:

  • Colorado. The state’s agency-driven approach begins with the alignment and coordination of services and sharing of data, combined with legislative backing through recent changes to state policy.
  • Connecticut. The state’s framework includes a pilot program that will build systems and program models within six communities, eventually serving as a template for scaling up Two-Gen programs statewide.
  • Utah. The state legislature created an interagency commission to explore the extent of intergenerational poverty in the state, from which a work plan was developed to align agency data collection and programs through to the caseworker level to ensure that services are more intentionally and effectively connected.

Policy Opportunities, Challenges, and Lessons

Colorado, Connecticut and Utah are on the vanguard of state implementation, developing innovative solutions to the structural barriers and challenges that have traditionally kept services for children and adults in silos. The three states have made significant contributions to the field’s understanding of how to best translate support for the Two-Gen approach into tangible solutions that fundamentally transform state policies, systems, and programs. The report highlights the importance of:

  • Cultivating champions of the Two-Gen approach in the state legislature and executive cabinet;
  • Developing unique ways to share data within and across state agencies to increase program efficiency;
  • Identifying populations within the state who share the potential to maximize the outcomes of Two-Gen program delivery;
  • Involving families in program design to ensure that services are tailored to the values of each community; and
  • Ensuring program sustainability by building opportunities for long-term systems change into Two-Gen policies and programs.

Tracy Wareing Evans, executive director at American Public Human Services Association, commented, “This report shines a spotlight on how Two-Generation approaches are helping states focus on the well-being of all children and families across the life cycle, shifting mindsets to solution-oriented service delivery that is both efficient and leading to better outcomes. The closer look at the approaches in Connecticut, Colorado, and Utah offers great insight into how other states might consider incorporating the Two-Gen lens across the education, employment, health, and human serving sectors.”

About the National Human Services Assembly

The National Human Services Assembly (the Assembly) is a Washington, DC-based association comprised of over 75 of the largest national nonprofit organizations. In aggregate, members and their affiliates and local service networks collectively touch, or are touched by, nearly every household in America—as consumers, donors, or volunteers. The Assembly focuses on strengthening the human service sector through shaping public dialogue, capacity building, collaboration, and improving nonprofit business practices.

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