Focusing on the Whole Family

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Two-generation approach addresses issues facing young children—and their parents—to help families achieve economic stability

Even as national and state unemployment rates decline, 45 percent of the nation’s children ages 0 ─ 8 are still growing up in low-income families, according to a study released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The report, Creating Opportunity for Families: A Two-Generation Approach, also reveals the rate of Georgia’s families with young children that lack economic stability exceeds 50 percent, and of those families, 49.3 percent lack full-time, year-round work.

More than half of these families in Georgia also are single-parent households, which can present additional obstacles to attaining child care and early learning, education, and employment. Beyond that, low-income families face increased parental stress, which can be detrimental to healthy child development.

“When young children are over-exposed to high levels of family stress over time, we know the effects can be negative and long-lasting,” said Rebecca Rice of Georgia Family Connection Partnership, the state’s KIDS COUNT grantee. “Traumatic experiences in a young child’s life can range from economic hardship, domestic violence, physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, to parental divorce or incarceration. Sadly, the consequences of these experiences can result in a lifetime of impairments in learning, behavior, and both physical and mental health.”

A further barrier to attaining stable work and adequate income in Georgia is a lack of education.  The parents in nearly 20 percent of Georgia’s low-income families do not have a high-school diploma, compared to just 2.8 percent of parents in high-income families. And, in a state where employment prospects increasingly require post-high-school education, close to 90 percent of low-income families with young children lack a bachelor’s degree, compared to 43 percent of high-income families.

“The jobs that are attainable without high school or post-secondary education are low-earning, inflexible, and unpredictable, which makes pursuing higher education difficult for families with young children,” said Rice. “If we are to eliminate these chronic barriers to opportunity and close the gaps in educational achievement, workforce preparedness, and physical health that are hindering Georgia’s potential to prosper, we must intervene with two-generation solutions that focus on improving conditions for vulnerable children and their parents, together. It’s a family approach.”

According to Rice, Georgia Family Connection does this by partnering at the community and state levels to align policies with effective practices to make quality early learning and child care accessible and affordable. By doing that we can create flexible job training programs and schedules, so we can offer education and skill- and asset-building opportunities.

Extensive research has shown the effectiveness of evidence-based home visiting (EBHV) in improving health, education, and economic well-being outcomes for young children and their families. EBHV in Georgia is a major service strategy in the Great Start Georgia (GSG) system, where leadership includes representatives of the major state agencies working with young children and families.

GSG connects expectant mothers, children, and their families to a range of services in the areas of evidence-based home visiting, maternal and child health, child safety, school readiness, community and family safety, and family economic self-sufficiency.

Clarke, Crisp, DeKalb, Glynn, Houston, Muscogee and Whitfield counties have received federal funding from the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services to embed one or more EBHV models—Early Head Start-Home-Based Option, Healthy Families Georgia Child, Parents as Teachers, and Nurse Family Partnership—in their local Great Start Georgia systems.

“Through this strategy, we in Georgia have an opportunity to create a statewide home-visiting infrastructure and coordinated community-based services and supports focused on promoting optimal early childhood health and development,” said Rice. “By providing communities with a framework for creating a coordinated system, Great Start Georgia has the potential to significantly improve the well-being of Georgia’s children and families.”

Read the Casey Foundation’s policy report, Creating Opportunity for Families: A Two-Generation Approach.

Read Concentrating on the Whole Family: A Two-Generation Approach to Improving Health and Well-Being for Children and Their Parents, Georgia Family Connection Partnership’s companion piece to the national KIDS COUNT report, which highlights long-term data trends on children and parents in Georgia.

Check out the Casey Foundation’s online data center for national and state-level data relating to the two-generation approach.

Rebecca Rice
Georgia KIDS COUNT Coordinator
404-527-7394 (x103)

Bill Valladares
GaFCP Communications Director
404-527-7394 (x113)

Follow us on Twitter @gafcpnews.

For interactive statewide data, visit Georgia KIDS COUNT at

Georgia Family Connection Partnership (GaFCP) is a public-private partnership created by the State of Georgia and funders from the private sector to assist communities in addressing the serious challenges facing children and families. GaFCP also serves as a resource to state agencies across Georgia that work to improve the conditions of children and families. Georgia KIDS COUNT provides policymakers and citizens with current data they need to make informed decisions regarding priorities, services, and resources that impact Georgia’s children, youth, families, and communities. Georgia KIDS COUNT is funded, in part, through a grant from The Annie E. Casey Foundation, a private charitable organization dedicated to helping build better futures for disadvantaged children in the United States.

The KIDS COUNT Data Center is a comprehensive source of information where you can download this year’s complete Data Book and access the new mobile site being launched using your smart phone.