Last week, Ascend at the Aspen Institute released a new report, “Gateways to Two Generations: The Potential for Early Childhood Programs and Partnerships to Support Children and Parents Together.” The report’s authors say that it’s time to explore and invest in approaches that link families in early childhood programs to other systems of support, such as workforce development. Such partnerships can help children and parents attain higher levels of education, build financial stability, and deepen their social networks. By doing so, the report’s authors suggest, these programs can help create “an intergenerational cycle of opportunity.” We are very excited that the report identifies All Our Kin’s efforts to train and support early childhood educators as one example of a “promising approach” that creates opportunities for parents and children to thrive.
As noted in the report, almost 12.5 million children under age 5 are in a regular child care arrangement. The early childhood arena holds special promise for two-generation approaches that reach these children—and their parents. Early childhood programs can offer children the nurturing early learning experiences they need while also connecting parents to resources and support that enable them to attain their own personal, educational, and professional goals.
From the start, All Our Kin has seized the opportunity to create a multi-generational impact with our work. We have always believed that when low-income parents find meaningful work by becoming professional child care providers they not only improve educational outcomes for vulnerable children, but also help other parents in their community achieve economic security and educational success. The University of Connecticut’s Center for Economic Analysis recently concluded that each provider All Our Kin helps become licensed enables between 4 and 5 parents to enter the workforce.
In the process of offering high-quality care that supports children and parents, providers are building better lives for themselves and their own families. Over half of the providers we help to license, for instance, eventually go on to achieve either an Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Education or a Child Development Associate credential. Graduates of the Tool Kit Licensing Program also earn over 10 percent more, on average, than their peers in similar fields in New Haven. All Our Kin’s providers are improving their own quality of life and their family’s standard of living while becoming sources of support and strength for families in their community.
At All Our Kin, we’re continually exploring new ways to deepen our two-generation approach. For instance, we hope to develop a program to improve family child care providers’ ability to help low-income families build their own support networks and care for their families. As the authors of the Ascend report note, “[h]igh-quality early childhood development programs … partner with parents and serve as a trusted resource.” The curriculum we plan to develop will deepen the ability of providers to recognize the needs of both children and parents, refer families to support services, and serve as trusted advisors for families in need.
Along with All Our Kin, this report highlights innovative programs from around the country, including the AVANCE Parent-Child Education Program, Acelero Learning, and the Oregon-based Schools Uniting Neighborhoods initiative. We’re grateful that the Aspen Institute recognized All Our Kin alongside these innovative programs, which are breaking the cycle of inequality and creating opportunities for parents and children to move together toward educational success and economic stability.