With family voices at the center, Ascend will bring together leaders from across key issues and sectors in 2019 to share bold ideas, generate new strategies, and identify critical partnerships to move families toward opportunity in the decade ahead. With a focus on those families who have been marginalized economically – from student parents to low-wage workers to women-led families – the convening will shine a spotlight on the inherent strengths of families with low incomes while bringing new and established leaders to conversations they might not otherwise have an opportunity to join. Through plenary sessions, deep-dive interactive opportunities, networking time, and listening sessions, we will seek to significantly advance strategies to move children and families toward opportunity across sectors and systems; understand the barriers in the field; and identify potential new allies.
1. Measure and account for outcomes for both children and their parents. Dual outcomes are at the heart of true two-generation programs. Programs and policies should measure how well they serve the whole family. Our report, Making Tomorrow Better Together, details the intended outcomes of a 2-generation approach
2. Engage and listen to the voices of families. Undergirding all of Ascend’s work — from principles to practice to policy — is a commitment to listen to families and ensure their perspectives and experience inform program and policy design. Policies provide the scaffolding and structures that support parents; parents themselves fuel and create their family’s successful path toward economic security.
3. Ensure equity. Two-generation strategies should evaluate and fix structural problems that create gender and/or racial and ethnic disparities in the ways that programs provide services and assistance. Many current funding streams and policies do not reflect the demographic realities of 21st century American families, where one in four U.S. children is growing up in a single-parent family, many headed by women, and where children and parents of color are disproportionately low-income.
4. Foster innovation and evidence together. Tap insights from prior evidence-based research and build a deliberate pipeline to ensure innovation. Policies and organizational cultures should encourage the integration of innovation into emerging evidence and evaluations of effectiveness.
5. Align and link systems and funding streams. Rarely will single funding streams fully address all the needs of children, parents, and families. Programs will need to blend and coordinate funds to deliver two-generation services. Aligning and linking systems at the state and community level — eligibility standards, performance benchmarks, and coordinated administrative structures — while simultaneously pursuing improved outcomes for both parents and children will lead to two-generation success.
6. Family Prosperity through Policy and Community Action. Advancing family prosperity requires creating conditions that support pathways to good jobs, including creative communications strategies, work-family supportive policies in the private sector, and transparent, well-resourced organizations. Recognizing the importance of both policy and community action is critical to ensuring a cycle of family prosperity is created for working families.