The Two-Generational Initiative (2Gen) is a holistic approach to supporting families. 2Gen puts the whole family, both children and parents, on a path to economic stability.
In 2015, Connecticut became the first state in the nation to pass legislation codifying a 2Gen initiative in statute. Many communities across the state have adopted the 2Gen approach.
The 2Gen approach
2Gen’s innovative whole-family approach creates opportunities and addresses the needs of two generations at once. It helps children and parents get the education, training, and social supports they need to succeed, and it allows parents the ability to pass on economic security to their children.
2Gen avoids the traditional, siloed approach to confronting economic instability. It relies on collaboration across agencies and sectors, data sharing, and leveraging existing resources to drive down costs and promote economic success. The 2Gen approach also works to empower parents as civic leaders and partners in our work.
2Gen’s advisory board and organization
Connecticut has a statewide, bipartisan 2Gen Advisory Board. It convenes members of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches, as well as private sector partners and parents. See a list of current members.
We also have three action-oriented subgroups that work collaboratively to develop solutions: Parent engagement, workforce development, and minimizing benefits cliffs. The Governor’s Office and the Office of Policy and Management (OPM) are active members of these subgroups. We also have a technical assistant from the Whole Family Approach to Jobs project and a researcher from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston engaged in an advisory capacity.
OEC’s role in 2Gen
In 2017, OEC became the lead coordinating agency for 2Gen in the executive branch. Since that time, OEC has:
- Established a Statewide 2Gen Coordinator position — based out of OEC — to work with all three branches of state government, the private sector, parents, and regional and federal partners on advancing 2Gen policy
- Led in cross-agency data sharing
- Integrated whole family approaches in our home visiting programs
- Smoothed benefits cliffs in our programs
- Partnered with academic leaders to pilot innovative 2Gen research projects
In 2018, OEC developed a partnership with UCONN’s School of Social Work, which provides additional research and data analytics capacity. This partnership allows us to demonstrate the effectiveness of core programs, engage in continuous data-driven improvement, and evaluate demonstration projects for new approaches. Through this partnership, OEC is also working with the:
- Department of Social Services and the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities to ensure more families with young children enter job-training programs
- Department of Housing to help families at risk of homelessness avoid the trauma connected with emergency shelter experiences
2Gen in Connecticut communities
Connecticut has three cohorts of communities engaged in the 2Gen approach that run parallel to and inform the state work.
- Five pilot communities were established in 2015 in Bridgeport, the Hartford area, Meriden, New Haven, and Norwalk. Some of these communities continued their efforts after the end of their grant periods.
- The Hartford Region Early Childhood Collaboratives in Bloomfield, Enfield, Manchester, West Hartford, and Wethersfield. Although their funding ended in 2019, these organizations are expected to continue to pursue 2Gen approaches.
- The Connecticut Working Cities Challenge Cities, including Danbury, East Hartford, Hartford, Middletown, and Waterbury.
Aside from the three cohorts, other communities across the state have adopted the 2Gen approach. One example is the Brighter Futures Family Centers in Hartford, which has served as a model for states across the country.
Many of our efforts to implement 2Gen in Connecticut have been made possible by a grant from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, such as:
- Evaluation of the pilot 2Gen communities
- “Parent Academy” events co-designed by parents
- 2-Gen staff support
- Development of a family-centered coaching model adopted by the Department of Labor
2Gen Interagency Plan
Legislation in 2019 charged the Office of Policy and Management (OPM) with developing an interagency 2Gen plan for family economic success. The plan has four key components:
- Development of an infrastructure to promote data sharing within and between state agencies to the extent permissible under federal and state law
- Coordination and leverage of existing resources to assist families to overcome common barriers to economic success
- Consideration of innovative approaches based on input of parents and other community members to increase the impact of the Two Generational Initiative
- Shared indicators and goals for interagency collaboration to achieve quantifiable and verifiable systems change to disrupt cycles of intergenerational poverty and advance family economic self-sufficiency and racial and socioeconomic equity.
The plan involves the core agencies that intersect with families, including OEC, Department of Labor, Department of Social Services, Department of Housing, Department of Children and Families, State Department of Education, and Connecticut State Colleges and Universities.
Connecticut has long been a leader in 2Gen parent engagement — our state is home to both the Parent Leadership Training Institute and 2Gen Parent Academy.
This trend has continued on the 2Gen Advisory Board, where 25% of the members — nine people — are parents. Our parent members are compensated for their service through philanthropic funds, and they’re expected to participate in at least one of our three action-oriented working groups.
Serving on these working groups offers parents the greatest potential impact. When parents sit as equal partners in the development of programs and policy, such as creating new training models for jobs programs or making legislative reforms for cash assistance — insight emerges that otherwise would not have. This kind of opportunity for parents to have direct input on the development of government solutions is powerful and rare.
Other 2Gen resources
- Learn about 2Gen’s history and our plan for the future — and how we can work together to help families in Connecticut achieve economic success. Read the 2Gen Interagency Plan.
- See how 2Gen is working across the country. Ascend at the Aspen Institute highlights the most promising and actionable 2Gen solutions from seven states, including Connecticut. Read their report, States Leading the Way: Practical Solutions that Lift Up Children and Families (June 2018).
- Discover new strategies for confronting benefits cliffs. The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) studied how states across the country — including Connecticut — are tackling benefits cliffs that harm families and businesses. Read NCSL’s report, Moving on Up: Helping Families Climb the Economic Ladder by Addressing Benefits Cliffs (2019).
- Read about the whole family approach to tackling economic instability from the NCSL and the Administration for Children and Families. Check out A Whole Family Approach to Jobs: Helping Parents Work and Children Thrive.
- Read the 2019 legislation that led to the creation of the interagency 2Gen plan for family economic success. See the bill.
- See the 2017 legislation that established OEC as lead coordinating agency for 2Gen in the executive branch. Read the bill.
- See the Senate Bill establishing 2Gen, which was passed in June, 2015. Read the legislation.