Our country is at a moment of fundamental change in terms of how we work and learn, how we provide care and connect, and how we build community. If the events of the past two years have taught us anything, it is that to prepare for future crises, we must put the interests of children and families at the center of our rebuilding efforts. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
To transform the early childhood development field, we need bold leadership that is able to chart a new future, one that is grounded in equity and centered in the expertise of families. By investing in the people who will lead the way, we can catalyze economic prosperity, foster an ecosystem marked by radical collaboration, and create a nation that centers children and their families over the next decade. This report shares findings from our landscape assessment and offers insights for integrating these findings into a cross-sector child and family agenda for 2030.
Trust between social service organizations and their clients is crucial to effectively provide services to immigrant and refugee families. Our brief on building trust with these groups explores how we can form these relationships and sustain them long-term to best serve these vulnerable communities.
The global pandemic has exacerbated social and economic hardships for families, and it’s more clearly revealed to employers the long-standing workplace policies and practices that prevent parents and caregivers from fully participating in the workforce. Comprehensive, integrated, and fair policies for workers are critical not only for parents, caregivers, and their children, but they’re essential for businesses and communities to thrive. Fortunately, a growing number of organizations recognize that policies that guarantee adequate pay, leave benefits, and the right to organize are foundational to a vibrant workforce. These four principles, which were developed by Ascend at the Aspen Institute’s Family Prosperity Innovation Community over the past two years, provide a roadmap for employers to design family-supportive policies and programs that better support their staff and their loved ones.
Employment-oriented programs offered as an alternative to traditional child support enforcement have the potential to improve outcomes for noncustodial fathers with a limited ability to pay child support. Noncustodial fathers who are struggling to stay on their feet need more support, not only because of the child support that they pay, but also because of their value as parents, employees, and members of the community. Investments in stronger work skills, job advancement, and income supplements for both parents could lead to more financially secure families, better life outcomes for children and parents, more equitable policies, and less strain on public systems.
Child support is an important source of income for children, but many noncustodial fathers have a limited ability to pay. Unrealistically high child support orders based on faulty assumptions about earning capacity do not produce more income for children; they produce uncollectible debt. Orders set beyond the ability of noncustodial fathers to pay them are counterproductive, resulting in less consistent payments, decreased labor force participation, increased debt, and strained family relationships. Unrealistic orders increase the compliance gap in child support collection rates, potentially reducing performance incentive funds and reducing public confidence in the effectiveness of the program.
Ascend, in partnership with the Kresge Foundation, is thrilled to share the newly released video, Advancing Children and Families Together: The Two-Generation Framework Overview. This short video aims to onboard those newer to the 2Gen approach and be used as a resource for the field in its continuous growth. We encourage you to share with your colleagues and networks and join us giving a special thank you to the video’s five featured speakers:
- Teresa Eckrick Sommer, PhD, Research Professor, Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University
- Amber Angel, Adjunct Instructor, Los Angeles Valley College
- Lori Pfingst, PhD, Senior Director, Economic Services, Washington State Department of Social & Health Services
- Joseph Jones, Founder, President and CEO, Center for Urban Families
- Mishaela Durán, Former Director for the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Office of Regional Operations