The Family Partnership’s 2Gen Approach to Mental Health

Sariah Toze | October 11, 2022 | Ascend Network

Mental illness affects 1 in every 5 Americans, however, inefficiencies, siloes, and disparities among systems make it challenging for families with low-incomes to access the health supports that are essential for them to live their healthiest lives.

Health and well-being is foundational to individuals’ and families’ ability to reach their full potential, which is why it’s one of the two-generation (2Gen) approach’s six key components of family well-being.  

While it’s encouraging to see discussions about mental health happening at the national level and there has been a recognition across all levels of society of the youth mental health crisis, we know that a mental health intervention for children can’t be effective without also supporting their parents and caregivers. Health is inherently a whole family, 2Gen issue, and as a society we must address real challenges around stigma and ensure each family and all communities have access to quality, culturally competent, and affordable mental health services.

To learn about how to identify barriers and opportunities for increasing the health and well-being of children and families, we reached out to our Network partner, The Family Partnership, and their Director of Outpatient and Early Childhood Therapies, Emily Geffre. The Family Partnership uses a comprehensive framework based on the 2Gen approach and they are at the forefront of implementing evidence-based practices, tools and emerging brain science to close opportunity and achievement gaps for children and families across generations. We asked Emily about their mental health programs and how they use therapy programs with children, teens, and adults to break the intergenerational cycles of poverty, adversity and trauma.

Q: Why or what led to The Family Partnership providing mental health services in house?

A: This is actually something The Family Partnership (TFP) has done for a long time.  Before our merger with Reuben Lindh Family Services, both organizations provided family-centered mental health services.  TFP developed its expertise with outpatient mental health clinic settings that we continue to utilize. Our merger partner developed its expertise in both its high quality therapeutic preschools, which we continue to operate, and and in the community, which we also continue to do as well.  In fact, we now offer mental health services through our two outpatient clinics, our two preschools, numerous other school settings in the community, as well as in peoples’ homes. We know that creating easier access to needed services helps everyone.  For example, having the therapy in the childcare makes it easy for the child to get services, the family to get them to services, and for the therapist to provide the services.  Having the child get services in the childcare helps them to be more successful in the childcare setting, which can transfer to more success at home, less stress for caregivers, and a better social emotional foundation for when they go to school.

Q: Why is this part of your 2Gen approach?

A: The better question is how can you work with kids and NOT work with the families?  They are naturally and inextricably connected.  They are an ecosystem in and of themselves.  The healthier the ecosystem, the healthier for everything that lives in it.  One practical application is that we try to be very intentional about creating spaces that are family friendly. Another is that when we select evidence-based practices to implement in our counseling centers, we look for ones which offer whole-family interventions whenever possible, as well as trauma-informed interventions since we know that most people in our state have experienced at least one ACE.

Q: What are some of the outcomes you saw once more health supports for were added for families? (For example, did this lead families (individuals) to be able to be part of their child’s early education/learning, complete job training, maintain employment, etc.)

A: The short answer is healthier families.  The family is an ecosystem and if one part of the ecosystem is not doing well, it impacts the whole family.  If a child is struggling to play with peers, pay attention in group, regulate their bodies, and learn this information, it all comes back to the caregivers and that stress goes onto them and vice versa.  That stress impacts their interactions, and takes up space in their lives.  When we can teach a child how to regulate their bodies, ask for help, and how to negotiate with peers all that knowledge goes home as well, and if we can also be engaging with the caregivers those skills also get reinforced at home.  This lessens stress at school, and thus home, and that space left from that stress can be used for other things that can continue to support and encourage family health.

Learn more about The Family Partnership’s incredible work, and check out some more resources on building effective 2Gen mental health programs.

Related Posts

As an organization with a vibrant Early Head Start program and a two-generational approach to alleviating poverty, All Our Kin has been a proud partner in Ascend at the Aspen Institute’s Family Prosperity Innovation Community. Being part of this group among 20 partnering organizations has given All Our Kin the opportunity to bring its innovative model …

Mom and Son Duo Reflect on Family Prosperity Convening Read More »

Aspen Family Prosperity Innovation CommunityAugust 11, 2022
To help families cope with loss, trauma, and isolation, community leaders and practitioners are using the two-generation (2Gen) approach that honors their experiences and builds off their strengths as a whole family.
Ascend NetworkJune 28, 2022
In episode 14 of the City of Kalamazoo's Shared Prosperity podcast, Ascend's Sarah Haight sits down with Kevin Ford, the city's Shared Prosperity Kalamazoo Coordinator. Throughout their discussion, they speak about the two-generation (2Gen) approach to improving family and community well-being.
Media MentionsMay 2, 2022
Intake forms are important because you never get a second chance to make a first impression. I'm heartened by Ascend Network partners' efforts to simplify intake processes for families with low incomes involved in two-generation (2Gen) programs.
Ascend NetworkApril 28, 2022
Although Black women continue to make significant contributions to their families and society, including being the top breadwinners and the most educated demographic earning a postsecondary education, the road to economic recovery and well-being is still further from their reach than their counterparts.
Ascend NetworkMarch 24, 2022
A commitment to rigorous learning and evaluation is fundamental to the implementation of a two-generation (2Gen) approach so that we’re measuring how well programs and policies serve the whole family. This is reflected in research being the first principle of a 2Gen approach, and it’s embedded in the day-to-day work of Ascend’s 450+ nationwide Network Partners. These visionary practitioners and systems …

From Proof Points to Building Evidence: Creating A Two-Generation (2Gen) Research Agenda Read More »

Ascend NetworkMarch 10, 2022
Think of how much our families evolve in 10 years. A seven-year-old will move from second-grade spelling tests to walking down the hallways of their dream university. At the same time, their parents may transition from school pick-up lines to their own school successes and career advancement. We don’t traverse our lives alone. We build …

A Family Story, One Decade in the Making Read More »

Ascend NetworkFebruary 21, 2022
The inaugural Aspen Leadership Impact Forum brought Aspen Institute Ascend Fellows and philanthropic leaders who share a commitment to courageous leadership for children and families together with the inaugural cohort of SOARFellows, leaders working to expand opportunities for women and girls.
BlogDecember 1, 2021
Anne Mosle and Marjorie Sims co-authored an op-ed in Penn Live/ Patriot News discussing the accomplishments of Ascend Network partners in Pennsylvania and present opportunities ahead to advance family well-being by centering families through two-generation (2Gen) approaches. We are at a moment in the nation – and in Pennsylvania – when a paradigm shift is in …

We’re entering a new era that will provide stronger support for struggling families in Pennsylvania Read More »

Ascend NetworkOctober 19, 2021
Two-generation approaches (2Gen) meaningfully engage and listen to families as equal partners in setting and achieving family goals. Family expertise and advice drive the design of two-generation policies, programs, and services. The voices and perspectives of people affected by policies and programs are essential elements of making them work. The words of parents and caregivers animate and reinforce what we learn from the data and the facts on the ground about these policies.
BlogAugust 3, 2021
A new report released today by Ascend at the Aspen Institute (Ascend) takes stock of the two-generation (2Gen) field. It analyzes what has been accomplished, the lessons learned, and the opportunities ahead with unprecedented federal expenditures in social policy. The report comes at a time when Americans are more fully recognizing that a system that tolerates social, racial, gender, and economic inequities is on unstable ground — and we are reckoning anew with the history of racism, sexism, and economic exploitation that built them into the foundation of our nation.
BlogJune 7, 2021
About Hispanic Unity of Florida  Hispanic Unity of Florida (HUF) in Hollywood, FL, was founded in 1982 by community leaders to guide newcomers to the U.S. on their journey to their American dream and to ease the acculturation process. Today, HUF is Broward County’s largest agency dedicated to the immigrant population. With 12 programs and …

Hispanic Unity of Florida: Building Strong Client Relationships Begins with a Strong, Whole-Family Intake Process Read More »

BlogApril 6, 2021
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 …

PelotonU: Principles for Engaging and Centering Parent Voice Read More »

BlogApril 6, 2021
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 …

Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona – State 2Gen Model Read More »

BlogApril 5, 2021
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 …

WVU Center for Excellence in Disabilities: Making Tomorrow Better Together: Process Outcomes and Measures for 2Gen Organizational Changes – WVU CED IMPACT WV Read More »

BlogApril 2, 2021