by Karen Kiely, Chief Operating Officer, CAP Tulsa
A child’s success is tied to their family’s stability and well-being, which is why CAP Tulsa uses a two-generation approach to ending intergenerational poverty. CAP Tulsa has worked hard to become a national leader in early childhood education. Research has shown the importance of high-quality early education for a child’s future success, while at the same time, early childhood educators have also recognized the importance of engaging families in creating supportive environments for their child’s development.
Our two-generation approach clearly integrates both high-quality educational opportunities for young children with evidence-based educational, workforce readiness, and parenting programs for their parents. Our three desired outcomes from this approach are as follows:
- Children enter school prepared for success;
- Families create a nurturing and secure environment for their children; and,
- Families are connected to one another.
One of the first steps in our partnership with our families is to help them develop a Family Success Plan while their child is learning with us in our early childhood programs. This plan allows them to create a series of goals they have for their family, and the steps they need to take to meet these goals while they are connected to CAP Tulsa. This includes an assessment of how they feel their family is doing in regard to parenting, housing and financial stability, and mental health. From there, a Family Support Specialist will work with them to establish a plan for meeting their goals. Families in our early childhood education program have access to Family Support Specialists through our partnership with Family & Children’s Services in Tulsa.
Some of the goals parents may identify in their Family Success Plan might include better financial stability for their family. CAP Tulsa provides workforce training that is free to families and allows them to be placed in high-paying healthcare careers, thus providing their family more financial security. This program, known as CareerAdvance®, is a training program that offers coaching and job opportunities for parents of children eight years old and younger.
The program pairs participants with coaches that work with them to identify their educational and career goals to build a better future for their family. It allows them to: obtain a GED; build academic skills needed to enter a healthcare training program; earn a certificate to work in a high demand healthcare career; gain healthcare employment through local partner employers; receive peer support; and connect with financial tools and resources that will help them reach their goals.
In addition to career training and placement, our two-generation approach includes parenting classes and other opportunities for families to engage in positive experiences with their children through volunteering in the classroom and other special program events.
Overall, CAP remains steadfast in the belief that promoting the healthy development of young children presents the best opportunity to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty. Yet, for children to thrive, their families must also provide a safe and nurturing environment, and a high level of parental engagement through which parents act as the primary teachers and supporters of their families. By involving the whole family through our two-gen approach, CAP Tulsa believes children will have the best chance for success in overcoming the societal and systemic inequities that too often impact those growing up in poor families by offering additional positive community supports throughout a child’s journey toward achieving economic self-sufficiency as an adult – so that their children are not also born into poverty.
For the latest research and findings on two-generation approaches, please visit our website: http://captulsa.org/innovation-lab/two-generation-approaches-to-breaking-the-cycle-of-poverty/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/CAP_Tulsa, @CAP_Tulsa