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Chase-Lansdale, Others, Discuss Two-Gen Interventions at Panel

Panel marks release of anthology on two-generation policies

The cover of Two Generations. One Future.

On April 7, the Aspen Institute released its Two Generations. One Future: An Anthology, which groups essays from 20 researchers, policymakers, and others on the challenges and opportunities inherent to implementing two-generation policies and programs. IPR developmental psychologist Lindsay Chase-Lansdale, also an inaugural Aspen Ascend Fellow, served as a contributor and one of the three editors of the anthology.

Two-generation program designs seek to better the lives of parents and children at the same time by providing programs for low-income parents and their children simultaneously. Chase-Lansdale’s focus is the linking of job training and education for parents with high quality early childhood education for their children.

Having taken more than two years to complete, the anthology describes the movement towards “2-Gen 2.0” as a means to boost stagnant social and economic mobility and address rising inequities for America’s poor and disadvantaged families. It provides a road map for intervention design, practitioner experiences, and state-of-the-art research in program development. In the first section, Chase-Lansdale and Columbia Teacher College’s Jeanne-Brooks Gunn examine the major developmental theories underpinning two-generation approaches, and why they are likely more effective than those targeting a single generation.

The release celebration featured a panel discussion by Chase-Lansdale with Ascend Fellows and co-editors Christopher King, a labor economist at the University of Texas at Austin, and Rev. Vivian Nixon, who leads an organization that assists formerly incarcerated mothers and their children. The panel was moderated by Steve Clemons, editor-at-large of the Atlantic.

Lindsay Chase-Lansdale

While there are many early education programs that target children living in economic hardship, such as Head Start, Chase-Lansdale argued that “It’s not fair to have the child be the only change agent in what’s going on.” She added, “If you bring the parents along at the same time, you’re investing in having impacts for many years to come.”

“Suppose it takes 10 years for a mother to complete an A.A. [associates’ degree]; her child is two, and she’s 20,” she continued. “Ten years later, he’s 12 and she’s 30. There’s still a lot of work to do, but she can navigate the community college system. She can help with homework. And her child has a strong role model.”

Chase-Lansdale and King discussed CareerAdvance of the Community Action Project of Tulsa (CAP Tulsa), a two-generation program on which the two collaborate. While the evaluation of the program’s impacts on families is ongoing, early findings illustrate some positive feedback from parents who have participated.

“We have great quotes from our parents, saying ‘When I tried to go to college before, and I dropped out, I was by myself and nobody cared. Now, when I’m late to class, I’ve got 15 people on the phone saying, Where are you? Can I share my notes?’” Chase-Lansdale said.

Nixon, who became an organizer at the organization College and Community Fellowship (CCF) after her own incarceration, spoke about the program’s influence on incarcerated women who would otherwise be shut out from obtaining a postsecondary degree, as they would be ineligible for many state and federal grants. With support from Ascend, the program will implement a two-generation approach that will also offer early education for their children.

To enhance two-generation approaches, the panelists also discussed ways that philanthropy can fund their implementation, how to integrate technology, coping with program participants’ student loan debt, adding 2-gen elements to Head Start, and the role governments and mayors can play.

The anthology is free and available online here; it also features a recording of the discussion by Chase-Lansdale, King, and Nixon.

P. Lindsay Chase-Lansdale is associate provost for faculty, Frances Willard Professor of Human Development and Social Policy, and an IPR fellow.