South Carolina's two-generation, whole family approach

It is challenging to properly supervise and care for a 1 year old while taking work calls and working from home. I’m grateful I can work from home right now but it’s not an ideal situation. It would be great to have safe childcare available at my work.”

“I work nights but I’m having problems, I’m fixing to lose my babysitter and I’ll lose my job and won’t be able to pay my bills or anything.”

– Parent quotes from the Build it Back Better Survey, August 2020

This month marks a year of the COVID-19 pandemic in South Carolina, a year in which the challenges families face under normal circumstances have been heightened by added anxiety and stress, job loss, health concerns, and child care issues. We heard this in the responses to our statewide survey of families with young children last fall. And we are still hearing it today.

We understand that helping children thrive means ensuring that parents and caregivers have the resources and opportunities they need for their own economic security and well-being, as well as their children’s. It means supporting the whole family.

What is 2Gen?

Early childhood programs typically exist along a continuum of services ranging from child-focused to family-focused. When a program focuses equally and intentionally on services and opportunities for the whole family, it is called a two-generation or 2Gen approach. These programs lead to more positive outcomes for both children and their parents.

Graphic courtesy of Ascend at the Aspen Institute.

There are powerful examples of the 2Gen approach in our state. For more than two decades, South Carolina First Steps has been a leader in working with children and the adults in their lives together. As the largest provider of home visiting programs in SC, First Steps builds respectful partnerships with parents and helps bolster the aspirations they have for their children and themselves. We believe so firmly in evidence-based parenting programs that we offer them in 43 of 46 counties, serving thousands of families each year.

As the connector and convener of all early childhood serving agencies, we also bridge various child-serving public agencies through the Early Childhood Advisory Council (ECAC). This collaborative group of early childhood leaders works together to align their efforts, streamline services, and better serve children and families. They share in our commitment to promoting the two-generation approach across the early childhood system.

My own position at First Steps is a testament to this commitment. I recently joined the agency to support the ECAC as the state’s first Two-Generation Coordinator. In this role, I will serve as South Carolina’s lead for cross-agency, system-wide adoption of the 2Gen approach.

I know the value of programs that help children and their parents succeed. As a social worker, I have spent my career leading family-focused programs and as an executive director of a small nonprofit, striving alongside families for a better state. All of us dedicate our lives to supporting our families and improving our communities, and we share a vision for what we want for our future; we will be successful when all children reach their highest potential.

Families are essential to all aspects of what happens in the life of our state. I am honored that my role is to support you. This year, the ECAC will establish a Family Voice Council for family leaders to share their experiences and ideas with program leaders that listen and guide positive change.

Are you a parent or caregiver of a young child who has participated in public programs? Are you interested in joining or have a story about your life and experiences? I want to hear from you.

If you have questions, stories, ideas, or interest in the SC Family Voice Council, please get in touch with me at rhatton@scfirststeps.org.

Topics: 2Gen, ECAC, Parenting


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