A two-generation approach to public policies brings together worlds that are often separated (focusing only on children or only on parents) to modify or create new policies that focus on the needs of parents and children together. Two-generation policies reflect strong research findings that the well-being of parents is a crucial ingredient in children’s social-emotional, physical, and economic well-being. And at the same time, parents’ ability to succeed in school and the workplace is substantially affected by how well their children are doing. Two-generation programs and policies are not a new idea. One of the most commonly known two-generation programs, Head Start, was created nearly 50 years ago with the idea of supporting the developmental needs of children while also supporting their parents’ ability to parent and to improve their livelihood. Recently, there has been considerable attention to encouraging, supporting, testing, and disseminating local two-generation programs that align services for parents and children. However, there has been much less attention to the focus of this paper: an examination of major federal and state policy areas to identify opportunities for large-scale change that better support families as a whole and provide a more conducive environment for local programs to do their work with families. This paper has two goals: (1) To give policy experts in individual program areas a sense of what it could mean to think two-generationally and why it matters and (2) to look at the opportunities for large scale policy changes that go beyond innovative local programs. (Author abstract)
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