All families deserve access to opportunity. However, systems that perpetuate inter-generational poverty threaten the well being of Austin’s residents and its economy, leaving far too many families behind.
In Travis County, more than one-third of households with children younger than 18 years old are low income. Meanwhile, employers in our community struggle to find trained candidates to fill well-paying middle-skill jobs. Austin’s current workforce gap is projected to continue to grow and reach more than 60,000 openings for middle-skill jobs by 2021.
For many parents who are eager to fill these positions, access to affordable, high-quality child care stands in the way. Although there are many promising anti-poverty programs in Austin, most focus solely on adults or their children, missing the opportunity to foster economic mobility for whole families. The 2-Gen approach to family economic opportunity brings services and resources for parents and children together, ultimately leading to better outcomes for both generations.
Over the past several years, leaders across sectors in Austin/Travis County have worked together to better understand and promote a dual-generational (2-Gen) approach aimed at disrupting the cycle of inter-generational poverty. With the release of the Austin/Travis County 2-Gen Strategic Plan, Austin’s nonprofit and municipal leaders are laying the groundwork to intentionally coordinate services for parents and children over the next five years.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler and United Way CEO David Smith will formally celebrate the launch of the plan on Thursday, December 13, 2018, at the Headliners Club. City and County officials, business leaders, and community organizers will be in attendance at this breakfast event to learn about the work being done already and goals for the future of a 2-Gen approach in Austin and Travis County.
Austin is the first community in the nation to develop a grassroots, community-wide 2-Gen strategic plan. “Austin serves as an example for communities across the country of what can be accomplished when we align systems to better support families,” said Carinne Deeds, Director of 2-Gen and Financial Stability at United Way for Greater Austin. “Our community’s leaders are committed to ensuring that all families have the opportunity to experience the promise of Austin. With this strategic plan, we will work to remove barriers and create opportunities that ensure that both generations of a family have the support they need to meet their goals. This plan lays out clear, common goals and actionable strategies that will better integrate services and resources in our community for parents and their children.
Over the course of 2018, over 50 stakeholder agencies from Austin and Travis County came together to develop the Strategic Plan in order to integrate this 2-Gen approach within our entire community. The Strategic Plan – the first community-wide strategic plan for 2-Gen in the nation – articulates common goals and strategies to strengthen and expand 2-Gen services and resources for Austin families.
The 2-Gen approach can take various shapes and forms, but most encompass some combination of the following supports and services:
- For children: ECE for children 0-5, OST programs for children 6 and older, mentorship.
- For parents/caregivers: parenting classes, financial education, English as a Second Language (ESL), Adult Basic Education (ABE), high school diploma or equivalency (HSE), post-secondary education (associate or bachelor’s degree programs), workforce training, and certification programs.
- For whole families: home visiting, health and mental health services, stable housing, financial stability, case management, and networks of support.