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Publication Title:

Designing for Outcomes through a Two-Generation Lens-Good Science & Good Common Sense

Author(s):

Janice M. Gruendel, Ph.D.

Date: March 2015

Publication Type: Issue Briefs & Policy Reports

Policy Area: When Brain Science Meets Public Policy

Page Count: 19

Publication Excerpt:

What if we really meant it when we talk about educational and economic success as the legacy that passes from one generation in America to the next? What if we focused on policies, practice guidance, program design and systems development related to the family “as a unit,” inclusive of children, birth parents, kin, and other adults who touch the lives of family members? Could this kind of common sense, science-informed “two (or more) generational approach” really help us begin to lock the door on chronic, multi-generational poverty in our vulnerable neighborhoods and communities?

Could it promote significant improvement in young children’s school readiness at entry to kindergarten? A growing chorus of scientists, policy makers, organizations, and individuals believe it can.

We present this report for several reasons. First, working with the family “as a unit” is not new in America. It has long roots in program design and practice that need to be respected and understood. Second, despite the explosion of current attention to this topic, research over the past 50 years reveals a pattern of significant complexity and challenge throughout the process of implementation.

On the other hand, the incredible science of brain development coupled with ongoing research on the impact of adversity and toxic stress reveals an important opportunity to improve child and adult outcomes by attending to the needs and capacity of both of them, together to the greatest extent possible. Equally important, creating policies,

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