Cornell Project 2Gen published a new series of research briefs designed to inform policymakers about the benefits of the programs and policies that support vulnerable families by supporting parents and their children jointly.
The briefs cover a range of topics that policymakers address including early childhood education, Medicaid and the opioid epidemic.
“Policymakers rarely have time to read peer-reviewed articles, which is the primary dissemination tool for many researchers,” said Elizabeth Day, a post-doctoral associate with Project 2Gen. “Creating briefs is one approach to bridging research and policy because they offer key research findings in an accessible way for a wide range of public audiences.”
The two-generational approach is gaining momentum within research communities across the country because evidence documents a strong connection between parents’ economic, psychological and social well-being and children’s healthy development.
Two-generational programs can begin by focusing on children and then add a component to support parents, such as parent education or skills classes. Others may focus on parents, and then add a component for children, such as child care or nutrition support. Still other approaches target systems that influence families, such as schools or workplaces.
For example, the research brief on early childhood education highlights the importance of child care to serve two purposes: child development and helping parents re-enter the workforce. It also summarizes two important research findings. First, New York State has childcare deserts, where there is not enough care available for working families. Second, a state-run preschool program has had the unintended effect of reducing the availability of childcare for infants and toddlers in rural communities.
Two other briefs provide researchers information on the opioid crisis and evidence-based programs that help to reduce the impact of the opioid crisis. One model offers wrap-around services to expecting mothers who are addicted to drugs, including counseling and drug treatment. The brief also describes family drug treatments courts, which offer parents services to help them stop using drugs and reunite with their families.
And a fourth brief provides information about children on Medicaid, the state-funded health insurance for the poor. Data shows children on Medicaid have better health and better educational outcomes than uninsured children. In addition, when parents are on Medicaid, families are less likely to become impoverished and outcomes improve for children.
“We hope these briefs can support policymakers and practitioners who have interest in these topics,” Day said. “This support may be in the form of providing background on a topic, providing information on what other states are doing legislatively, or suggesting a variety of effective approaches or solutions to problems whenever possible.”