West Virginia Children Succeed When Parents and Families Succeed

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By Dan Heyman
A new strategy to help kids by helping their families is offering hope in West Virginia’s poverty-fighting efforts.
A new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation says child poverty programs can have more impact by utilizing a “two-generation” approach by helping parents at the same time as their children. The report also notes how poverty-fighting programs are often too “narrowly targeted” in areas such as children’s health or education.
Patrice Cromwell, director of strategic initiatives at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, says the report calls for a broadening of that focus.
“Kids succeed when their families succeed,” she says. “It’s not enough just to invest in early childhood and parenting skills, but to help parents bring up their children in a stable environment.” The report is available online at the Annie E. Casey Foundation website.
One way to maximize the use of professionals and advocates in coaching families is by utilizing them for home visits to address two generations. On one hand, children’s developmental, health and education needs can be addressed, along with job training and other assistance for parents.
Cromwell says better employment options can relieve some of the pressures on parents, and make them better mothers and fathers.
“We need to be supporting parents in their ability to get a job, keep a job, and be a strong parent,” she says. “If we can help families become more stable, it leads to lower family stress.”