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Disrupting cycles of poverty requires 2-generation approach, group says

National advocates for child well-being say disrupting intergenerational poverty requires a two-generation approach. Utah-specific recommendations will be released on Wednesday.
National advocates for child well-being say disrupting intergenerational poverty requires a two-generation approach. Utah-specific recommendations will be released on Wednesday.
bodnarchuk, Getty Images/iStockphoto

SALT LAKE CITY — National advocates for child well-being say disrupting intergenerational poverty requires a two-generation approach.

“For too long, our approach to poverty has focused separately on children and adults instead of their inter-related needs,” said Patrick McCarthy, president and CEO of the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Voices for Utah Children, a Salt Lake child advocacy organization, will release a national report Wednesday that includes recommendations on policies, practices and programs to help children and families move out of poverty. The report, authored by the Casey Foundation, will include Utah-specific recommendations.

An excerpt of the report, “Creating Opportunity for Families: A Two-Generation Approach,” frames the issue.

“A child raised in poverty is more likely to become an adult living in poverty — less likely to graduate from high school or remain constantly employed. Forty-two percent of children born to parents at the bottom of the income ladder stay there,” the report says.

Sarah Haight, a program manager at the Aspen Institute, will also release recent national and regional poll results Wednesday on public attitudes regarding strategies to address poverty during a community meeting at the Zions Bank headquarters.

That will be followed by a panel discussion by Utah government officials, child advocates and service providers who will respond to the Casey Foundation’s recommendations and discuss Utah’s efforts to reduce poverty.

The foundation’s strategies align well with the Utah Intergenerational Welfare Reform Commission’s 2014 recommendations, Utah officials say.

The foundation’s recommendations include:

Create policies that equip parents and children with the income, tools and skills they need to succeed — as a family and as individuals. This includes quality child care and education for children while parents are employed or participating in job training; utilizing the earned income tax credit (which Utah does not have on the state level) and giving parents more flexibility at work such as paid time off.

Put common sense into common practice by structuring public systems to respond to the realities facing today’s families. For example, the pilot launched by the Utah Department of Workforce Services called “Next Generation Kids” is a two-generation approach for families participating in the state’s Family Employment Program.

Use existing child, adult and neighborhood programs and platforms to build evidence for practical pathways out of poverty for entire families. Quality programs could partner with programs for their parents, connecting them to financial coaching, job-readiness assistance, education and other tools to achieve financial stability.

“Finding better ways to help families and move children out of poverty benefits everyone,” said Terry Haven, deputy director of Voices of Utah Children.

"Poverty experienced early in life is associated with particularly negative outcomes for children. Children growing up in poor households are more likely to be unhealthy, drop out of school, have chronic health problems as adults, and earn lower wages than those not poor during childhood.”

Email: marjorie@deseretnews.com