This blog is part of Ascend at the Aspen Institute’s 2Gen Level Up series. Ascend challenged organizations that work with and/or on behalf of children and families to apply one of six resources listed below and level up their two-generational efforts. Of the many organizations from across the country that put these resources to use, Ascend selected six 2Gen Level Up winning organizations to each receive $5,000 and advance outcomes for families in their communities.
This blog series features the applications written by each of the winning organizations to demonstrate real-life implementations of these resources. Below is one winning entry, from the Aroostook County Action Program, for their usage of the resource 2Gen Platforms for Scale: Whole-Family Approaches Rooted in Community with National Reach.
About Aroostook County Action Program
Aroostook County Action Program in Presque Isle, ME, provides the people of Aroostook with services and resources that help individuals, and their families achieve greater economic independence (Link to its website).
Why did you choose this resource?
This resource focuses on the areas most valued by Aroostook County Action Program (ACAP). Providing services to a rural area in Northern Maine, partnerships are key to ensuring programs are assisting families to achieve their goals. In rural areas, we are stretching resources, working together, and innovating to meet the needs of the community. ACAP has seen firsthand the benefits of these types of partnerships. This resource helped to solidify ways we can build upon existing relationships to enhance our Whole Family Approach.
How have you implemented the resource? How did this resource level up your 2Gen work?
ACAP is currently the local provider for both Head Start and Workforce Development in our region. We have continued to provide education to our partners about our Whole Family Approach. Over the last year, we have developed a closer relationship with several community stakeholders including United Way of Aroostook.
In the last three months, we also have developed a stronger State association of Community Action Agencies (CAA) focusing on Whole Family. Key Whole Family leaders from all 10 CAPs across Maine have worked together to enhance whole family practices and partnerships. Each agency worked together to assist in the development of RFP responses in their respective regions to Maine DHHS for TANF Whole Family Approaches. Working together, leveraging each agency’s partnerships provided an opportunity to learn from others and bring practices to a larger scale.
This resource helped to reinforce the opportunities available for our rural community action agency to collaborate with others. ACAP has been implementing Two-Gen practices since 2017 and continues to enhance our approach and effectiveness. We have seen the benefits for children and their families, elevating every member of the family unit.
This resource has emphasized the great work our families and staff are doing in our Whole Family Approach and how we can enhance partnership through the Whole Family lens both in our own community and with our Community Action Partners Statewide. With limited resources, more emphasis needs to be focused on integrated data systems between and among partners, shared resources, and sharing of family voices around outcomes and program design. These factors are key in rural Maine to the success of the Whole Family Approach and the families we serve. Our local successes and challenges need to be shared to support our partners with innovation and program implementation, especially given the changes in family economics as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
What are your next steps?
The next steps will include further exploration and coordination of a state-wide data reporting system utilized by all Community Action Agencies (CAA). This shared reporting system will allow for consistent data practices and reporting for all CAAs providing a Whole Family Approach as our entire network continues to expand in this work. ACAP will continue to provide mentorship to other CAAs as they implement their Whole Family Approach in their communities.
ACAP will also continue to work with both internal and external partners to build upon our Whole Family Approach. We will seek out opportunities with Northeastern Workforce Development Board to enhance Whole Family opportunities for families with young children eligible for Head Start.
Please find the other Resources included in various 2Gen Level Up Prize winning applications below:
- Principles for Engaging and Centering Parent Voices (Two winners)
- State 2Gen Model: Maryland as a Case Study for Policymakers, Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona | Tucson, AZ
- 2Gen Platforms for Scale: Whole-Family Approaches Rooted in Community with National Reach, Aroostook County Action Program | Presque Isle, ME
- Making Tomorrow Better Together: Process Outcomes and Measures for 2Gen Organizational Change, West Virginia University Center for Excellence in Disabilities; IMPACT WV | Big Chimney, WV
- Building Strong Client Relationships: Two-Generation Approach Begins with a Strong, Whole-Family Intake Process, Hispanic Unity of Florida | Hollywood, FL
- Two-Approach to Leveraging TANF: DC as a Case Study for Policymakers