TAKING ON POVERTY AND OPIOID ABUSE WITH A TWO-GENERATION STRATEGY

Poverty and substance abuse are major contributors to child abuse and neglect. Sometimes children need to be removed from their home for safety reasons, but that experience comes with trauma for the child that can lead to health and behavior challenges long-term.

In an effort to keep families together, some two-generation approaches—those that address the needs of both children and their parents—are being proposed and implemented.

Poverty

What Have Legislators Been Doing?

States are leading the way to enact what they are calling 2Gen policies that have systems and funding working together to support the whole family and break the cycle of intergenerational poverty. States pursuing 2Gen approaches have learned to be sustainable, these efforts require change in approaches, strategies and systems that serve children and parents simultaneously.

The inclusion of parent voices and a focus on equity are foundational to these efforts. States have realized such successes as engagement of fathers and noncustodial parents in parenting and economic support of their children and a reduced cliff or benefits effect to support working families. Fiscal cliffs occur when marginal increases in wages results in loss of public benefits, often leaving families with fewer resources as their income increases.

Examples of successes to these approaches from seven states across the country can be found in the report States Leading the Way: Practical Solutions that Lift Up Children and Families, released last month by the Aspen Institute. It reflects positive outcomes when education, economic supports, social capital, and health and social well-being are provided and emphasized to realize economic security that can be passed on to future generations.

Opioid Abuse

What Have Legislators Been Doing?

Foster care caseloads increased nationally from 630,000, to 683,000 in 2016. This correlates with the percentage of children removed from their homes due to parental abuse of drugs rising from 10% in 2000 to 31.3% in 2016. 

Congress has been working to put solutions in place to help communities respond to the opioid crisis. A two-generation focus while addressing this issue is necessary for several reasons:

  1. There is a limited number of family-based residential facilities that can keep families together while administering treatment.
  2. Exposure to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), such as being separated from a trusted caregiver, is associated with lifelong physical, emotional, psychological and social challenges that continue through adulthood and can contribute to substance abuse later in life.
  3. Age-appropriate services and supports are needed for youth who are at risk of becoming addicts due to ACEs, toxic stress and trauma.

What You Can Do to Help

The child welfare system cannot be the only solution for helping children affected by a caregiver’s addiction. Let your federal representatives and senators know you believe long-term solutions to the nation’s opioid crisis must be focused on families’ needs to enhance recovery outcomes and prevent addiction in the addicted parents’ children and future generations. 

Sign Up for Advocacy Updates