The multigenerational approach to alleviating poverty through services integration focuses on addressing the
needs of the whole family. Programs with this aim may also be referred to as taking a “whole family” approach.
This model is also commonly referred to as the
Several organizations and foundations, including
The Aspen Institute and The Annie E.
Casey Foundation have been advocating for the use of a multigenerational approach to alleviate poverty.
The multigenerational model integrates child-focused services, parent and caregiver services, and adult-focused
services. Services for children often aim to improve school readiness, while services for adults target economic
assets such as housing, job readiness, and health and well-being. Other services may include child and family
social groups, support services for caregivers, and respite services.
A key component of this model involves providing educational resources to adults and children, which can help a
parent or caregiver offer a more economically stable environment for the child. Multigenerational approaches can
also focus on developing social capital to help families out of poverty. Participants of multigenerational
programs can build social capital through participation in the community and social networks and by making
connections with family, friends, and neighbors. Many multigenerational programs also help connect families to
economic supports, such as:
- Student financial aid
- Health insurance
- Food assistance
- Other public and private resources
initiative is using a multigenerational approach to invest
resources in rural communities. Rural Impact will focus on designing innovative program delivery, raising
awareness of rural child poverty, and improving access to high-quality child care, early learning, and
continuing education. A major aspect of this program will involve a new technical assistance demonstration
Rural Integration Models for Parents and Children to Thrive
Examples of Rural Programs using a Multigenerational Approach
The Lake County Tribal Health
Consortium (LCTHC) manages a Tribal Preschool where children receive school-readiness services and
can participate in parenting and support programs such as a substance use recovery group. While LCTHC
originally planned to implement a home visiting program that would provide early childhood resources to
children and supportive service to parents, parents in the community asked the clinic to deliver services in
group settings instead. In response to these requests, LCTHC developed the preschool program and now offers
group classes to parents during school hours.
Grundy County, Tennessee is increasing access to health and wellness by utilizing a social-capital approach.
Specifically, this rural community is adapting and implementing the New Haven's MOMS
Partnership, a community network for mothers that brings together organizations that provide
community resources for both adults and children. The MOMS Partnership provides interventions that reduce
the toxic stress experienced by children and families with low incomes.
Head Start, a federal program of the Administration for
Children and Families, promotes family well-being through a multigenerational approach. The program provides
early learning and health services to children from birth to age five. Parents often receive parenting
education and referrals to social and health services. There are two types of Head Start services that can
be offered by a community. Early Head Start serves pregnant women, babies, and toddlers up to the age of
three, while Head Start serves children ages three to five years old. Not all communities will have funding
to provide both Head Start and Early Head Start. The National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human
Services prepared a
brief on the challenges of implementing Head Start and early childhood development programs in rural
Considerations for Implementation
Since this model aims to serve the whole family, programs should be sure that they include activities that
address the needs of the family as a whole, or include aspects that address the needs of both children and
adults together. The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard
University has published a working
paper on the importance of maternal mental health on child health outcomes. This paper discusses the
challenges that mental health plays in the multigenerational approach, specifically the role of maternal
depression on children’s health and developmental outcomes. Maternal depression can have lasting harmful effects
on a child’s cognitive, social, and emotional development, making behavioral health a key component to consider
in this model.
Resources to Learn More
the Cycle of Poverty in Young Families
This report features case studies of two-generation programs, describes elements associated with successful
outcomes, and recommends future work.
Organization(s): National Human Services Assembly
Family Centered Practice
Provides an overview of key elements of family-centered strategies to be employed across child welfare service
systems to improve the capacity of families to protect and care for their children.
Organization(s): HHS Child Welfare Information Gateway
The Head Start
Parent, Family, and Community Engagement Framework
The framework provides programs with a research based, organizational guide for implementing relevant Head Start
Program Performance Standards.
Organization(s): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families
An overview of the main components of a two-generation approach and the importance of a multi-faceted approach
to alleviating child poverty.
Organization(s): Ascend at the Aspen Institute