Report: Lifting Colorado’s Young Children Out of Poverty Needs Two-Generation Strategy

Addressing needs of kids and parents at the same time key to achieving stability; Recent Colorado child care subsidy changes an example of two-generation approach

Contact: Tara Manthey
Title: Communications Director
Phone: (720) 256-1312

Report: Lifting Colorado’s Young Children Out of Poverty Needs Two-Generation Strategy

Addressing needs of kids and parents at the same time key to achieving stability; Recent Colorado child care subsidy changes an example of two-generation approach


11/12/14 12:01 am ET

Denver, CO – Two out of every five young children in Colorado are growing up in low-income households, according to a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation that calls for a comprehensive two-generation effort to lift kids out of poverty. The report focuses on the importance of delivering high-quality early childhood education to kids who need it most, while also providing parents with access to job training, career paths and other tools that enable them to support their families.

The report’s “two-generation” approach to improving the self-sufficiency of more American families includes recommendations to integrate employment, education and child care programs for parents and children to create better opportunities for the entire family. Colorado has taken a lead in some of these efforts. The recent reforms to our child care subsidy program, the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP), for example, will ensure more children have access to safe, stimulating learning environments, while also making the program more reliable for working parents seeking to achieve a self-sufficient standard of living.

“The two-generation approach to lifting families out of poverty is rooted in common sense,” said Chris Watney, President and CEO of the Colorado Children’s Campaign. “We know that kids need strong education and health systems to succeed, but they also need strong families. Making sure poverty solutions reach kids and parents—in the same families, at the same time—is a practical and resourceful way to turn these trends around.”

The report, Creating Opportunities for Families: A Two-Generation Approach, outlines three broad recommendations for improving self-sufficiency of families with young children:

Create policies that equip parents and children with the income, tools and skills they need to succeed­­—as a family and as individuals. State and federal governments should strengthen policies that expand job-training, educational and career opportunities; adopt policies that give parents more flexibility at work, and increase the Child Tax Credit to increase the income of noncustodial parents.

Put common sense into common practice by structuring public systems to respond to the realities facing today’s families. State and federal governments should promote collaboration and align policies and programs through interagency commissions and innovation funds. For example, child- and adult-focused state agencies should consolidate their data to look at the whole family. Policy makers could take advantage of new legislation and reauthorization periods for Head Start and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, among others, to bring together child and adult programs.

Use existing child, adult and neighborhood programs and platforms to build evidence for practical pathways out of poverty for entire families. Early childhood, K-12 systems, home-visiting, job-training and supportive housing programs could partner with one another to connect parents with financial coaching, job-readiness assistance, education and other tools to achieve financial stability, while also ensuring their children have access to high-quality care and schooling.

Although Colorado is doing better than the national average on most indicators in the report, the data show that too many young families in our state are facing barriers to becoming economically secure. In more than 21 percent of low-income families with young kids in Colorado, no parent has graduated from high school, which highlights the need to equip parents who have limited education with skills that can help them earn a family-supporting income.  Additionally, nearly 40 percent of all low-income families with young children ages birth to age 8 in Colorado are headed by a single parent, compared to 16 percent of middle- to upper-income families.

More than two-thirds of all low-income families in Colorado with young kids have a high housing cost burden, meaning they spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing. Low-income families in Colorado are more likely to face relatively high housing costs than their peers across the nation.

Creating Opportunity for Families: A Two-Generation Approach will be available Nov. 12 at 12:01 a.m. EST at Additional information is available in the KIDS COUNT® Data Center, which also contains the most recent national, state and local data on hundreds of indicators of child well-being. The Data Center allows users to create rankings, maps and graphs for use in publications and on websites, and to view real-time information on mobile devices.


About Colorado Children's Campaign

The Annie. E Casey Foundation creates a brighter future for the nation’s children by developing solutions to strengthen families, build paths to economic opportunity and transform struggling communities into safer and healthier places to live, work and grow. For more information, visit KIDS COUNT® is a registered trademark of the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The Colorado Children’s Campaign is a nonpartisan, nonprofit research and advocacy organization focused on improving the quality of and expanding access to child health, K-12 education and early childhood experiences. For more information, please visit

If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Tara Manthey at (720) 256-1312 or email Tara at