Breaking the Cycle of Poverty by Helping Kids and Their Parents Succeed

Posted October 20, 2014
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Aecf Breakingthe Cycleof Povertyby Helping Kidsand Their Parents Succeed 2014

Children’s suc­cess in school is close­ly tied to their par­ents’ abil­i­ty to pro­vide for them emo­tion­al­ly and eco­nom­i­cal­ly. For the past sev­er­al years, the Cen­ter for Work­ing Fam­i­lies Inc., Edu­care Atlanta and Dun­bar Ele­men­tary School have been tak­ing advan­tage of their prox­im­i­ty — and the fact that they serve some of the same fam­i­lies — to help kids and their par­ents suc­ceed togeth­er. This coor­di­nat­ed approach empha­sizes three core com­po­nents: employ­ment and train­ing; high-qual­i­ty ear­ly child care and ele­men­tary edu­ca­tion; and increas­ing par­ents’ involve­ment in their children’s edu­ca­tion, as well as their abil­i­ty to sup­port their kids’ healthy development.

This approach has already seen some suc­cess: In the first two years after Edu­care Atlanta opened in 2012, the Cen­ter for Work­ing Fam­i­lies saw a 33 per­cent rise in employ­ment and an aver­age week­ly wage increase of $35 among the Edu­care Atlanta par­ents using cen­ter-pro­vid­ed child care sub­si­dies. The chil­dren of those par­ents out­per­formed their peers in read­ing when they moved into kindergarten.

Despite those acc­com­plish­ments, both enti­ties rec­og­nized the need for fur­ther col­lab­o­ra­tion so that the 126 fam­i­lies they serve could achieve even greater results. This year, they have tak­en a num­ber of steps to bet­ter align their efforts. Lead­ers and front­line staff from the cen­ter and Edu­care Atlanta have par­tic­i­pat­ed in mul­ti­ple train­ing ses­sions that have allowed them to build rela­tion­ships with one anoth­er, bet­ter under­stand the roles each of them plays in sup­port­ing fam­i­lies and stream­line their process­es for enroll­ment and ser­vice deliv­ery. And in their joint bian­nu­al meet­ings with fam­i­lies, cen­ter and Edu­care Atlanta staff now use a new tool called the Atlanta Bridge to help them ass­es, togeth­er, where a fam­i­ly is in terms of sta­bil­i­ty, well-being, edu­ca­tion and train­ing, employ­ment and finan­cial man­age­ment — and iden­ti­fy goals for each area. Edu­care Atlanta has also com­mit­ted to using the same data man­age­ment sys­tem as the cen­ter to fur­ther facil­i­tate com­mu­ni­ca­tion about the fam­i­lies they both serve.

As some of the first Edu­care Atlanta chil­dren are now in ele­men­tary school, the part­ners have extend­ed their net­work to include Dun­bar Ele­men­tary, which togeth­er with Edu­care Atlanta makes up the Dun­bar Learn­ing Com­plex. Edu­care Atlanta and Dun­bar Ele­men­tary are align­ing their edu­ca­tion­al pro­grams to keep their kids on track to be pro­fi­cient read­ers by the end of third grade. The ele­men­tary school’s involve­ment in the part­ner­ship also helps ensure par­ents con­tin­ue mak­ing progress as their kids grow. 

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