WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) are calling for the passage of their legislation, the Two-Generation Economic Empowerment Act, after a report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that more coordination needs to be done at a national level to assist state and localities in implementing the two-generation approach.
The GAO report found that state and local entities are currently using two-generation, or whole family, approaches to reduce poverty and move families towards economic self-sufficiency. The report also states that the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Council on Economic Mobility, should make information that would assist state and local entities in developing and implementing two-generation poverty reduction approaches readily available across federal programs and offices.
Senator Heinrich and Collins’ legislation aims to provide this coordination and expand the use of resources for the two-generation approach. The bill aligns and links existing systems and funding streams to target both parents and children with support aimed at increasing economic security, educational success, social capital, and the health and wellbeing of whole families.
“Even before the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, far too many families in New Mexico and across the nation have continued to struggle to make ends meet and escape multigenerational poverty,” said Heinrich. “This GAO report clearly reflects the need for our bipartisan legislation bill to give states, local governments, and tribes more flexibility to develop innovative programs that really work to help families find a way out of poverty. I have visited programs across New Mexico that are already using the two-generation approach and have been able to hear firsthand how providing robust services for parents and their children simultaneously, allowed families to grow together and get on a more prosperous path. As we look towards economic recovery efforts, I will continue to fight to ensure that we create a foundation for every family to pursue their dreams together.”
“Far too many American families are living below the poverty line, and the current public health and economic crisis has exacerbated this problem. While federal programs have helped many of those living in poverty manage day-to-day hardships, they are falling short of breaking the cycle of poverty that has trapped too many families,” said Collins. “This GAO report confirms the effectiveness of addressing the needs of children and their parents together to fight poverty, and it underscores the need for Congress to pass our bipartisan bill that would expand this innovative, two-generation approach nationwide.”
The Two-Generation Economic Empowerment Act is the product of a multi-year collaborative effort to balance the interests and input of a broad array of stakeholders, including Ascend at the Aspen Institute, Central New Mexico Community College, and New Mexico Voices for Children. The legislation is also supported by the Maine Community Action Association and the Maine Head Start Directors Association.
“Momentum is building for the 2Gen approach as policymakers and practitioners at the city, county, and state level embrace it and fuel a groundswell of innovation and collaboration to advance family well-being,” said Anne Mosle, Vice President at the Aspen Institute and Executive Director of Ascend at the Aspen Institute. “The GAO report underscores how and why boosting coordination around the 2Gen approach is critical to the well-being of families living on low incomes, especially now as many are reeling from the impact of the economic and public health crisis. Families are resilient when provided solid economic opportunities and a safe work environment. We as a nation are called by this moment to better support our families – and the Two-Generation Economic Empowerment Act can help us do just that.”