2018 Solutions Series


In 2018, Ascend is laser-focused on providing concrete, actionable solutions for practitioners and policymakers that want to incorporate a whole family approach to their work. The Solutions Series is a collection of briefs, webinars, and convenings that elevate the top opportunities and actionable solutions to move children and their parents toward educational success and economic security as recommended by Ascend and other experts in the field.

Ascend will release a report, States Leading the Way: Practical Solutions that Lift Up Children and Families, in the June, and will publish briefs and host convenings throughout the year, on the top policies and solutions recommending the opportunities below that can break the intergenerational cycle of poverty for families:

  • Partnering with families to build social capital;
  • Supporting fathers and non-custodial parents in parenting and economic supports;
  • Sustaining the 2Gen culture;
  • Legislative support for 2Gen, family outcomes;
  • Promoting organizational culture change to support 2Gen systems change;
  • Incorporating brain science, resiliency, and trauma informed care into family supports;
  • Braiding together systems and funding to support the whole family; and
  • Reducing disincentives to work via the “cliff or benefits effect.”

Briefs and Blogs

Additional briefs and blogs coming soon.

  • Transition Strategies: Sustaining 2Gen Success: Transitions at the state level are felt even more acutely these days with staff turnover, retiring leadership, and 2018 gubernatorial elections on the horizon in 36 states. As state leaders think about what comes next, maintaining the positive change achieved for families through a two-generation (2Gen) approach is likely a top concern. Engaging in practices that proactively embed 2Gen approaches into government work will be critical to a smooth and effective transition. View the webinar.
  • Engaging Fathers in Child Support: From a Punitive to a Positive Approach: The Colorado Department of Human Services is dramatically transforming practice and the fundamental way we think about child support enforcement by using a 2Gen lens and working with Ascend staff to think about a different future for children. Through the Colorado Parent Employment Project (CO-PEP), the Department focuses on helping non-custodial parents overcome barriers to employment, so they can financially support their children – a quintessential 2Gen approach.
  • Reducing the Cliff Effect to Support Working Families (Blog): Family stability and self-sufficiency are inextricably linked to the development of children, including their brain development, school success, and health. For these reasons, there is increased focus on potential mechanisms for reducing the “cliff or benefits effect” to support stronger outcomes for children and families. A 2010 study by the Women’s Foundation of Colorado showed that 1 in 3 families did not accept income increases to remain eligible for child care tuition subsidy. Research in Colorado, Florida, and Maryland shows families must weigh pay increases and career mobility with basic services for their children. Each state is working to eliminate these disincentives to work and increase the wage earnings of parents.
  • Reinventing the Way We Measure Family Outcomes (Blog): Following recommendations from Ascend at the Aspen Institute for measuring outcomes for children and parents, the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood designed a set of whole-family, or two-generational (also known as 2Gen) outcomes measures representing key family goals that also generate value for Connecticut. Referred to as a rate card, this effort allows government to define a menu of outcomes it wishes to “purchase” and the amount it is willing to pay each time a given outcome is achieved. In Connecticut, the outcomes rate card encourages providers to take a family-centric approach that tailors services to the needs of individual parents and their children.
  • Tackling Intergenerational Poverty in Utah (Blog): State leaders in Utah are determined to find solutions to intergenerational poverty and strengthen the lives of children and their parents. As Governor Gary R. Herbert shared with colleagues at the National Governors Association, “Intergenerational poverty is generation after generation where the grandparents, parents, and now the children, are trapped in poverty. We’re trying to break that cycle.” With this focus, the Governor tasked his administration to find solutions and prioritize the work of Utah’s multi-agency Intergenerational Welfare Reform Commission and data initiative in 2012. Ascend at the Aspen Institute became one of the partners in these efforts through connections with other innovative states, local community efforts, technical assistance, and leadership support.

Upcoming Convenings

Please save the dates. Sign up for our e-newsletter to receive event invitations.

  • On April 5, Ascend will host a leadership conversation at the Aspen Institute – Valuing Children, Valuing Work: A Conversation with Colorado’s Governor John Hickenlooper – to discuss how states leaders can shift organizational cultures and recruit business to better support families. View the livestream video here.
  • In June, Ascend will release two reports:
    • On June 1, Ascend will release a Tennessee 2Gen case study with the Tennessee Department of Human Services.
    • On June 14, Ascend will host a public event at the Aspen Institute to discuss recommendations included in the report on top policies and solutions, States Leading the Way: Practical Solutions that Lift Up Children and Families.
  • On November 29, Ascend will host a public event at the Aspen Institute with the GOOD+ Foundation to discuss how to engage fathers and non-custodial parents in parenting and economic supports.

Contact: If you have any questions about the Solutions Series, please contact Lindsay Broyhill, communications strategist and manager, at Lindsay.broyhill@aspeninstitute.org.