| Posted: June 13th, 2013
There’s a lot of buzz in the world of social services and anti-poverty initiatives about “two-generation” service models (or “two-gen” to those in the know). Foundations, nonprofits, and government agencies such as the Aspen Institute and Annie E. Casey Foundation are championing two-generation approaches to breaking the cycle of poverty.
But defining a true two-gen initiative is more difficult than it seems. For many programs, it means simply offering services to both a young mother and her child. In a program like Head Start, two-gen can mean providing employment support for adults while their children receive early childhood programming.
The Urban Institute’s Housing Opportunity and Services Together (HOST) Demonstration takes a more ambitious approach, attempting to meet the needs of the whole family—parents and children of all ages. Our new policy brief describes the challenges and rewards of this whole-family approach.
The first two sites to launch HOST services, Chicago Housing Authority’s Altgeld Gardens and Home Forward’s New Columbia and Humboldt Gardens, both struggled to implement a true whole-family approach. In practice, they learned that providing support to an entire household meant going far beyond just linking families to a set of community services. To truly benefit from such a model, the staff serving both adults and children had to become a unified team, communicating and collaborating to ensure they were meeting the needs of all family members.
UCAN, the lead service provider for Chicago, developed a system called “IDT,” or interdisciplinary team meetings, to increase information sharing and provide space for brainstorming and feedback. The meetings last several hours, include staff from various positions (case managers, service providers, mental health clinicians), and provide an opportunity to approach the needs of each family comprehensively and to revise that approach on a regular basis.
Thanks to this approach, we also learned that a multi-generational approach can be helpful for outreach. Sometimes engaging youth in a household helped bring in the adults, and vice versa.
The Portland team struggled with how to best serve immigrant families with large numbers of children. This year, they decided to collaborate with the on-site schools to identify the youth most in need of intervention. Expanding their outreach and engagement strategies means that HOST is reaching and serving multiple members of a household, beyond a single child and head of household.
HOST sites are continually fine-tuning what a whole-family approach means for their particular housing community. Throughout this ongoing process, the Urban Institute will document the lessons learned and tackle the challenges of evaluating these whole-family approaches. Stay tuned.
Photo from Project Match
Filed under: People |Tags: deep poverty, HOST, multi-generational, neighborhoods, poverty, Urban Institute 1 Comment »
| Posted: July 24th, 2012
For middle-class families, summer means fun outdoor activities and a break from school schedules. But for many youth from poor, isolated, inner-city communities, it also means too much free time. Middle-class options such as camps, summer jobs, and sports are often either too expensive or not readily available in poor neighborhoods. The lack of high-quality, engaging summer programming means youth may not have a safe place to go while their parents are at work. Even those engaged in daytime activities may not be receiving the quality educational or recreational programming necessary to keep them healthy and to avoid the “summer slide.” Johns Hopkins’s National Summer Learning Association reports that, on average, youth from lower-income families lose two months of learning, or 22 percent of the school year, during their summer break—and those losses are cumulative, meaning that lower-income youth are also less likely to graduate from high school or attend college. Lower-income youth are also more likely to experience negative health outcomes, such as obesity, over summer break. On average, weight gain is three times faster during summer months.
Ensuring that youth are involved in positive summer activities is also important for the strength and safety of a community’s living environment. Teenagers without jobs or a place to go can create a challenge for the people and community around them.
Many public housing authorities, including the communities participating in the Urban Institute’s Housing Opportunities and Services Together Demonstration (HOST), struggle to serve their young residents during the summer, relying on limited resources to reach large numbers of kids.
HOST Portland site—Home Forward, New Columbia, and Humboldt Gardens developments
As part of HOST, Home Forward (formerly the Housing Authority of Portland) developed a package of creative strategies to support families and their children age 0–18 throughout the summer. These programs include family reading hours and Zumba classes, community gardening, summer internships, and volunteer experiences. Run to Live, a mentoring and exercise program for youth, seeks to show kids how daily choices can help support a healthy lifestyle and connects them with peers and a mentor for support and guidance.
Although Run to Live is popular among Home Forward youth, consistently engaging youth in outdoor exercise-driven, summer activity remains a challenge. The Home Forward staff are exploring the idea of providing stipends or rewards for youth who participate in Run to Live on a regular basis.
HOST Chicago site—Chicago Housing Authority, Altgeld Development
UCAN, in conjunction with Project Match, are the youth service providers for the HOST Demonstration’s Chicago site. Their programs are geared toward achievement, competition, motivation, empowerment, and goal setting. With youth under 18 representing more than 50 percent of residents, staff describe the sometimes daunting challenge of meeting the diverse needs of so many young people.
Among the more successful programs are those aimed at older youth and those that provide youth with a financial stipend. Learn and Earn is a CHA program available to HOST participants. The six-week program for 155 youth ages 13–15 that offers career exploration and weekly field trips, along with a weekly stipend. For the Growing Power program, youth ages 16–21 must compete for the 120 slots available to work in Altgeld’s community garden through a summer youth employment program. Participating youth receive a $700 stipend for six weeks of participation. Certain youth are able to work in the garden throughout the year. Another popular activity is the year-round (though space-limited) Martial Arts program that helps youth ages 5–17 focus their energy on goal setting and behavior management, a common struggle for tweens and teens.
The Chicago and Portland HOST sites have made tremendous progress in addressing the needs of their younger residents, though they both struggle to keep their kids engaged in positive, goal-oriented activities. Providing consistent, year-round programming and offering incentives and stipends seem to help maintain participation. The hope is that the activities and mentorship programs they provide will help improve youth outcomes (physical, behavioral, and educational) and promote healthier communities overall. The Urban Institute will be evaluating their progress over the next few years.
Filed under: Built Environment, People, Quality of Life, Urban Culture 3 Comments »