Affordable, early-childhood education and access to job training for parents - offered at the same time. That's the recommendation in a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation that calls for a "two-generation" approach to reducing the number of children living in poverty.
In Kansas, 95,000 children are growing up in low-income families. Shannon Cotsoradis, president at Kansas Action for Children, said strengthening of safety-net programs is one key.
"But we want to couple that with policies that are family-friendly around safety-net programs," she said, "things like making sure families can access cash assistance."
She cited declining caseloads in Temporary Assistance to Needy Families as an area of concern because poverty has not declined. Cotsoradis said she sees that as a call to revise TANF policies to ensure the program is working for families and not against them.
Patrice Cromwell, director of strategic initiatives at the Casey Foundation, said poverty reduction tends to be focused on either children or parents, but common sense tells us that families need to be viewed as a whole.
"Kids succeed when their families succeed," she said. "So, it's not enough to invest in early childhood in parenting skills, but to help parents bring up their children in a stable environment."
The report lists affordable, quality child care as one of the biggest barriers to parents' ability to further their education or access job training to move up the career ladder. Recommendations include better coordination of existing child, adult and neighborhood programs to provide pathways out of poverty for young families.
The report, "Creating Opportunity for Families: A Two-Generation Approach," is online at AECF.org.