In November 2014, the Annie E. Casey Foundation released Creating Opportunity for Families, which emphasized the close connection between family stability, overall well-being and a child’s success. Recognizing that kids thrive when their families do, Casey called for policies and programs that take the entire family into account — what many describe as a two-generation approach — to equip parents and children with the tools and skills necessary for both to succeed. Specifically, this involves intentionally coordinating and aligning often-isolated programs for kids and adults in a way that leads to accelerated progress in three key areas: (1) parents with family-supporting jobs and financial stability; (2) children meeting developmental milestones; and (3) families able to fully support and engage in their child’s development.
Over the past few years, the Foundation and others in the public, nonprofit and private sectors have invested in efforts to weave together programs and services for children and adults. These efforts have fostered collaboration among state and federal agencies and strengthened community-based organizations that typically focus on either children or adults. Despite this progress, the two-generation initiatives that have emerged continue to face common challenges: Many struggle with developing the funding mechanisms and appropriate infrastructure to coordinate child and adult services and with establishing a system to collect and integrate data on families.