Ascend Early Childhood Development and 2Gen Survey
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Introduction to the Ascend Early Childhood Development and 2Gen Tool

This tool is designed to help early care and education (ECE) practitioners, policymakers, researchers, educators, and other professionals to deepen their understanding of Two-Generation policies and practices. A 2Gen approach provides the parents of children that ECE organizations serve with adult education and training for jobs and careers, and other support to improve their economic self-sufficiency. These innovations help parents to enhance and protect their children’s gains from participating in early care and education programs and, as a result, help ECE programs to improve their outcomes for children.

This survey is based on the promising practices, policies, and programs implemented by a number of ECE organizations and on lessons learned by researchers, policymakers, and thought-leaders in the field. It allows users to compare their thinking and actions with what is being tried across the U.S., and perhaps will inspire them to try new things. Your responses to each item will be kept confidential. But data from all respondents will be aggregated and used to help Ascend and its partners develop useful information, tools, and other products and services for ECE organizations following a 2Gen path.

Background on Early Care and Education and 2Gen

The premise for using a 2Gen approach in early care and education was articulated in a 2014 brief by Voices for Utah Children: “Breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty necessitates a two-generation approach that meets the needs of vulnerable children and their parents together. Evidence-based and effective interventions which promote a healthy pregnancy and lifestyle, effective parenting, parental education and training, self-sufficiency and early education can improve the economic prospects for the family, reduce child maltreatment and toxic stress, and improve long term educational and life outcomes for the child.”

Head Start, which serves more than 1 million children annually, has long recognized the importance of a 2Gen approach, as the National Head Start Association noted: “Children’s outcomes are deeply related to their family context; changes in parents’ education and income can cause changes in parent stress, home environment, and overall stability.” A 2012 report by the Ray Marshall Center for the Study of Human Resources noted that “early childhood centers can provide an ideal context for implementing adult career and educational pathways while both parents and children are young.”

Evidence is accumulating that children perform better behaviorally and academically in families with stable employment, rising incomes, and increasing levels of education. However, low-income parents of children in ECE centers face numerous barriers to achieving economic security for their families.

A large majority of Americans recognize the logic and power of a 2Gen approach. A 2014 national bipartisan poll commissioned by Ascend found that 71 percent of adults polled agreed that “if we want to make sure low-income children are successful in their early learning, then we have to also invest in their parent’s economic well-being.”
 
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Awareness of Parents as Economic Agents for Families and in the Community

Efforts to increase parents’ educational attainment and families’ economic self-sufficiency start with a data-based understanding of the parents/families' economic situation and the economic opportunities available to them in the local labor market. This requires identifying, gathering, and analyzing data, typically in partnership with local workforce training, education, and business- community organizations. A part of the information to be gathered about parents’ skills/education, previous work experience, and career motivations is to help gauge their readiness for a 2Gen investment.
 
Does your organization have the following information about the parents of enrolled children?

 
Are they employed? (Full-time, part- time, multiple jobs)


 
Are they paid a living wage, or more or less


 
What public benefits—child care assistance, SNAP, TANF, healthcare benefits—do they receive?


 
What is their level of education attainment


 
What job training have they had


 
Are they enrolled in a 2- or 4-year college program or a job training program


 
What are their career interests


 
Their previous efforts to pursue a career


 
Their English language capabilities


 
To what extent do they also use family, friends, and neighbors to provide child care


 
What methods has your organization used to obtain information from parents of the children they serve about their needs as parents?


 
Does your organization have the following information about economic opportunities and organizations in the local area?

 
The jobs, skill levels, and professional abilities that are in demand


 
The wage levels and benefits of available jobs


 
Longer-term projections of which types of jobs will be available in the future


 
The structure, capacity, cost, and performance of local job-training and education providers


 
Screening standards and entry requirements of job-training and education programs, such as criminal background checks


 
Which economic sectors (e.g., health care, manufacturing) offer good employee benefits, job stability, safe working conditions, and opportunities for career advancement and wage growth


 
English language capabilities required by different jobs/occupations


 
Which occupations/careers have “ladders” of education, training, and certifications that workers can follow from entry level to advanced career


 
Identification of leading employers within a sector


 
Does your organization know the following about its enrolled children?

 
Are they on track to be developmentally prepared for kindergarten


 
Do they receive regular comprehensive screening for health and well-being


 
What has been their progress on social, emotional, physical, and cognitive scales


 
Do they have special education status and are they receiving special education services


 
Have they experienced trauma and are they receiving services for the trauma


 
Economic Supports For Parents

A 2Gen approach provides parents with a range of services, anchored in education and training for jobs and careers, that help them to improve their economic standing, while also recognizing that certain non-economic supports—such as nutrition counseling or mental health services—also are essential. The approach is not just about short-term placement in a job; it seeks to build a parent’s readiness and capacity to follow an employment, career, or entrepreneurial pathway that has increasing and sustainable economic well-being.
 
Does your organization seek to provide any of the following economic-support services–either by itself or through a partner?

 
Career coaching to help participants ascertain goals and career plans, provide counseling, mentoring, and be an advocate, working with family-support staff


 
Work readiness orientation to help parents establish self-esteem, self-respect, and self-pride


 
Assistance in returning to local high school, alternative high school, or obtaining a GED


 
Assistance in obtaining English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) education


 
Upgrading of basic skills – reading and math for training and employment


 
Family literacy


 
Training for careers focused on universal competencies, like work ethics, appropriate dress and behavior in work environments


 
Assistance with applications to 2- and 4-year colleges and with access to scholarships, grants, and loans for students


 
Training/education for job interviews, resume preparation, job research, and career planning


 
Financial literacy and debt-management counseling


 
Development of savings accounts or Individual Development Accounts


 
Free tax preparation services


 
Coaching for how to support family’s living expenses while in the program


 
Financial stipends during training/education to offset lost income


 
Cash and/or non-cash performance incentives (e.g., for good attendance or achieving specific milestones)


 
Discounts on transportation support, help with car pooling


 
Development of computer skills for the workplace


 
Access to computers and the Internet


 
Engaging and Supporting Parents

ECE organizations routinely engage with the parents of the children they serve, but in a 2Gen approach the engagement takes on a different aspect: the parents are engaged as economic agents for their families and for their children’s economic futures.
 
Does your organization or its partner organization(s):

 
Prepare parents for what to expect in job training and career development initiatives, how long it will take, and the financial implications for their families


 
Co-develop with each parent an agreement about shared expectations


 
Provide a family support-staff member who helps parents assess their family’s needs, identify family goals, work on their priorities, and deal with crises that arise


 
Schedule classes and program activities for during daytime hours to coincide with the early childhood center’s hours.


 
Schedule classes during evenings when child care is provided


 
To provide parents with a supportive environment, does your organization or its partners:

 
Include parent representatives on the organization’s leadership body, to help make decisions about program design, staffing, curriculum and more


 
Have staff with the cultural competencies and linguistic capabilities needed to engage diverse parents successfully


 
Find out if parents served see themselves as part of a supportive community, including other parents, teachers, support staff, and administrators


 
Partnering for 2Gen

Effective 2Gen strategies are rarely achieved through a single organization's efforts. Many ECE organizations decide to partner with other local organizations to provide parents with economic and other supports that will be a part of their 2Gen approach. Partnerships may be encouraged through incentives at the federal, state, and local levels.
 
Does your organization seek to provide the following 2Gen services for the parents–either by itself or through a partner?

 
Child care for younger siblings while parents are in class


 
Help parents make child care arrangements when center not available


 
Development of parenting skills and knowledge


 
Improvement of the parent-child relationship


 
Ongoing home visits from pregnancy to a young age child


 
Improving the health of the parent and young child


 
Reduction of toxic stresses in the family and community that could injure the child’s well-being


 
Family literacy program


 
Help parents to develop their children’s social competence and emotional regulation skills


 
Develop parents’ advocacy/leadership skills


 
Has your organization implemented collaborations with the following types of potential local partners:

 
With workforce development agencies and nonprofits


 
With 2- and 4-year colleges


 
With public libraries


 
With the Nurse Family Partnership (or similar program)


 
With local employers


 
With public schools


 
With neighborhood and community organizations


 
Faith-based organizations


 
Community health centers


 
Dental health providers


 
Mental health providers


 
To increase the effectiveness of its 2Gen efforts, does your organization--by itself or through its partners--seek to...

 
Facilitate peer support among parents, providing training/instruction in cohorts, helping peers share experiences, problem solving, studying, personal advice, encouragement, and resources (e.g., car pooling) with each other.


 
Market participants to employers as skilled, competent workers that employers need, not as “disadvantaged” people needing jobs


 
Co-locate parents’ education/training as much as possible with the site of their children’s ECD programming


 
Anticipate that some parents may need to take survival jobs for short-term financial stability, and therefore provide support that positions them for better jobs in the short term even as they pursue longer-term development of skills for the workplace


 
Prepare families for transition out of ECE and into the public school system


 
Maintain relationships with families after their children have transitioned out of ECE so continued counseling and other support can be provided


 
Screen for parents who are strongly motivated to work, already have some work experience, and exhibit strong interest in a career


 
Help parents find work – volunteer and/or paying – in the sector they are interested in during periods when class is not in session, to gain experience and advance their learning


 
How does your organization assess the quality of partner organizations' performance?

 
Evaluating 2Gen Impacts

ECE organizations use traditional and non-traditional indicators to measure the impact of 2Gen approaches. The traditional approaches come from the education and workforce development fields, while the others seek to measure the effects on children in their programs.
 
In assessing the effectiveness of its efforts to help parents increase their families’ economic security, does your organization track and measure:

 
Completion rate for training/education cohorts


 
Cohorts’ pass rate on credentialing examinations


 
Employers’ satisfaction with trainees and graduates


 
Whether individuals obtain jobs that will provide greater earnings and more stable employment


 
Changes in the parents' income


 
Changes in the parents' job stability


 
Other indicators measured for 2Gen programs

 
If your organization has assessed its policies and programs to identify and address gender and/or racial and ethnic inequities, please describe how this was been done and what changes/improvements it resulted in.

 
Which indicators does your organization track to assess the effects on children of providing their parents’ with education, economic, and family supports? (If none, please enter that.)

 
For each item below indicate your level of interest:

 
Participating in an Ascend webinar series on 2Gen and Early Care and Education


 
Obtaining a reading list about 2Gen and Early Care and Education


 
Obtaining a set of reports about how 2Gen is being implemented in the Early Care and Education field


 
Learn more about how to make the case for undertaking 2Gen in early care and education organizations


 
Designing a learning process about 2Gen and Early Care and Education for your organization


 
Learning more about how to build partnerships with other organizations that can help your organization to design and implement a 2Gen approach


 
Learning more about how to assess outcomes/impacts of 2Gen programs and policies


 
If you have any additional comments or suggestions, please enter them below:

 
May we contact you by e-mail to follow up on your responses?

     
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