To make progress in ending the cycle of poverty for families, strategies for improving the economic well-being of parents must be integrated with proven efforts that address the needs of their young children.
Research shows that poverty and toxic stress — including severe, chronic abuse, prolonged poverty, homelessness, being raised by a parent with mental health issues and food insecurity — can have a negative impact on the brain development of very young children. Cognitive differences show up by the age of 9 months, with lasting impact on achievement in school and work, physical and mental health and social behavior.
To promote positive outcomes for the entire family, the Dunbar Learning Complex is using a two-generation approach that meets three distinct objectives. First, the complex delivers supports and services that intentionally address the needs of children and their parents at the same time. Second, it offers programming to develop parent and caregiver skills and resources that influence healthy child development, as well as the skills adults need to advance their economic success. And, finally, it has established partnerships with organizations that promote family economic stability and success.
The Dunbar Learning Complex is working in close partnership with The Center for Working Families, Inc. (TCWFI) to implement a two-generation approach and break the cycle of poverty for families living in the learning complex community and surrounding neighborhoods. TCWFI is a private nonprofit located next door to the complex that offers a combination of economic stimulus, job development, work supports, asset-building and entrepreneurship programs to move struggling families toward family economic success. Funding from the Georgia Department of Human Services provides parents enrolled at TCWFI with subsidized, high-quality child care at Educare Atlanta, allowing them to prepare for employment or advance in their job with the security of mind that their children are in a safe, nurturing and educationally focused environment.
Sheltering Arms’ Georgia Training Institute offers additional career development opportunities to parents. By enrolling in the Institute’s Child Development Associate Credential training, parents and other area residents can build their skills and secure employment at Educare Atlanta or one of the 16 other Sheltering Arms centers in the metro Atlanta area.
Educare Atlanta offers a wide range of parenting programs and resources. This intentional blending of the most promising strategies for addressing parent and child needs can dramatically change the future of these young children, their families and the broader community.