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Hartford Foundation Submits Testimony in Support of S.B. 1080 An Act Concerning a Two-Generational Initiative

On Thursday, March 21, the Hartford Foundation submitted testimony to the Legislature’s Human Services Committee in support of Senate Bill 1080 An Act Concerning a Two-Generational Initiative. The proposal would create a separate commissioner-level Two-Generational Family Economic Success Cabinet to better coordinate policies and programs across agencies to address the needs of children and their families. This two-generation executive Cabinet would be the first in the nation, furthering our state’s capacity to lead the nation on the central importance of the family, realized through a two-generation framework and approach. Two-generation perspectives are a vital part of the Hartford Foundation’s own investments with workforce development strategies embedded into early childhood and family programs, and vice versa, to ensure that families in our region are successful, supported, and thriving.

In its testimony the Foundation encouraged the Cabinet to examine existing models and ideas, including the discussions and recommendations of the Two Generational Advisory Council; existing pilot two-generation programs, such as those developed in partnership with the Connecticut Association of Human Services and the Hartford Foundation to bring two-generation perspectives to local early childhood collaboratives; and successful practices in other states to better serve low-income families.  

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Testimony Supporting S.B. 1080
An Act Concerning a Two-Generational Initiative
Human Services Committee
March 21, 2019

Senator Moore, Representative Abercrombie, Senator Logan, Representative Case, and distinguished members of the Human Services Committee. The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving is grateful for this opportunity to submit written testimony in support of Senate Bill 1080, An Act Concerning a Two-Generational Initiative.

The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving is the community foundation for the 29-town Greater Hartford region. As a community foundation, we manage, grow, and distribute approximately $1 billion in assets to promote equitable opportunity for all residents in our region, particularly in the areas of education, community safety, and community and economic development.

Two-generation models recognize that the well-being and life success of parents and children are interdependent[1]: children are best able to learn and grow when their families are healthy, self-sufficient, and thriving; parents are best able to work and to support their families when their children are safe, well-cared for, and learning. In particular, the two-generation approach helps ensure that in programs to support children and in workforce programs, the family is at the center. Low-income families, who often are the recipients of targeted workforce, family, and early childhood programs, benefit most from this two-generation approach.

 The current Two-Generational Advisory Council includes legislators from each party and appointed representatives from business, health and mental health, children and family programs, nonprofit and philanthropic organizations and scholars, as well as a member of a low-income household. At present, Commissioners or their designees serve as ex officio members of the Council. The Hartford Foundation supports Senate Bill 1080, which would create a separate commissioner-level Two-Generational Family Economic Success Cabinet to better coordinate policies and programs across agencies to address the needs of children and their families.

This bill would separate the advisory body (newly termed the Advisory Board in this bill)from the executive decision-making body. The Cabinet will provide the necessary leadership to identify new areas for individual departmental and collective action to better support families; better leverage existing and any new resources; and develop common practices, policies, and evaluative measures to improve service delivery. This two-generation executive Cabinet would be the first in the nation, furthering our state’s capacity to lead the nation on the central importance of the family, realized through a two-generation framework and approach. Meanwhile, the Advisory Board will continue to operate in a supportive capacity, bringing outside perspectives about municipal, philanthropic, and community-based experiences with two-generation strategies and, most importantly, the voice of families in advancing this important work.

Two-generation perspectives are a vital part of our own investments at the Hartford Foundation. Through this lens, we embed workforce development strategies into early childhood and family programs, and vice versa, to ensure that families in our region are successful, supported, and thriving.

  • For more than 20 years the Hartford Foundation has supported Hartford’s six neighborhood-based Family Centers that have been designed to meet local families' specific needs and interests, and foster young children's success in school and beyond in a nurturing and supportive environment. Numerous community, municipal and state organizations provide programs in partnership with the Family Centers, increasing the range and accessibility of services for Hartford families. These centers have worked to integrate two-generation (and often multi-generation, including grandparents) approaches in their programming, recognizing the value in using this framework in working with families with children.
  • Through our Career Pathways Initiative, we connect employers, literacy supports, adult education, and other programs to support the workforce development of individuals facing barriers to employment. Many of the residents participating in these programs have families, and through this work, we have seen the importance of supporting the whole family, particularly through child care. In 2017, of the 377 participants enrolled across CPI program sites, 53 percent were women and 34 percent of all participants enrolled reported having dependent children. An evaluation of these workforce programs found that participants across the program sites struggled with accessing childcare. One site that focused on serving low-income women with dependent children recognized early on that child care posed one of the greatest obstacles for these women to participate in the program. Based on this experience, the sites are exploring partnerships with community organizations to provide childcare while parents pursue their education.
  • Hartford Foundation Director of Early Childhood Investments, Richard Sussman, currently serves on the existing Two-Generation Advisory Council, through which we have shared our experiences in the Capital region to build a supportive system that maximizes the potential inherent in all children and their parents. Specifically, we have discussed how we have introduced two-generational strategies to our colleagues as part of the state Early Childhood Funder Collaborative and incorporated the framework and approach in specific instances in our own grantmaking.

Our experience confirms that the two-generation model is a holistic, systems-oriented approach that can have an enduring impact on Connecticut's families today — as well as the generations that follow. We will continue to embed this philosophy in our work and our partnerships with grantees and with peer philanthropic organizations.  We thank the legislature for its support of a two-generation policy that can strengthen families, and in turn, improve Connecticut’s economy, safety and overall quality of life.  There are many opportunities for a commissioner-level cabinet to address, among them:

  • Developing data sharing agreements to better serve overlapping client populations across programs and state agencies;
  • Examining agency programs and policies for appropriate alignment of eligibility requirements, similar to the exploratory work done in 2018 to align eligibility for SNAP Education and Training programs administered by the Department of Social Services, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) programs administered by the Department of Labor, and the Care 4 Kids childcare subsidies administered by the Office of Early Childhood;
  • Examining benefits cliffs that exist across programs and disincentivize families from increasing their earnings potentials;
  • Developing shared outcome measures to examine and improve program impacts upon family success, and to promote learning across agencies.

In their work, we encourage the Cabinet to examine existing models and ideas, including the discussions and recommendations of the Two Generational Advisory Council; existing pilot two-generation programs, such as those developed in partnership with the Connecticut Association of Human Services and the Hartford Foundation to bring two-generation perspectives to local early childhood collaboratives; and successful practices in other states to better serve low-income families. 

Thank you for the opportunity to provide testimony. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our staff at policy@hfpg.org or 860-548-1888.


[1] Some have argued that the term “multi-generation” or “poly-generation” would be more appropriate, given the rich complexity of families, but “two-generation” is the term that has caught on.


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