Breaking the Cycle of Poverty in Young Families

December 19, 2013

Over 1.4 million youth ages 15–24 are out-of-school and out-of-work (OSOW) and are raising dependent children. When youth are out of the education system, lack early work experience, and cannot find employment, the likelihood is poor that they will have the means to support themselves and the needs of their children.1Too often, this traps their families in a cycle of poverty for generations.

Until communities offer multiple pathways to connect with ladders of opportunity, many young families headed by OSOW youth will be unable to achieve financial independence. To break the cycle of poverty, many human service organizations use two-generation approaches with “young families” (that is, families with children in which the parent is an OSOW young person ages 15–24 years). One hallmark of these two-generation approaches is the use of strategies that address the developmental needs of the young parents, their children, and the families as a whole.

The National Human Services Assembly (NHSA), an association of America’s leading nonprofit human service providers, conducted an exploratory study of two-generation programs already in place within its member organizations. The Annie E. Casey Foundation (AECF) supported this effort, which sought to document quality two-generation pro­grams and identify program elements that strengthen young families. The study eventually engaged 32 NHSA members and affiliates in sharing their knowledge about two-generation approaches and providing connections to programs that re-engage young parents in education and/or work, nurture parent-child bonds, improve chil­dren’s wellbeing, and connect families with economic, social, and other supports.

This report features case studies of two-generation programs, describes elements associated with successful outcomes, and recommends future work.

Find the full report in the link below (in PDF format).


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