Senators Collins and Heinrich Bring Reintroduce Bill to Address Generational Poverty

Date Published: 
September 4th, 2017

Two-Generation Economic Act reflects the cross-sector collaboration that CLPHA’s Housing IsInitiative promotes.

Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Martin Heinrich (D-NM) recently reintroduced bipartisan legislation in the Senate, calling for the development of support programs that improve family economic security by breaking the cycle of multigenerational poverty through a comprehensive strategy that addresses the needs of parents and children. The Two-Generation Economic Act of 2017, or S. 435, seeks to align and link existing service systems and funding streams that currently support parents and children separately. Heinrich and Collins believe that aligning the support systems to help parents and children together will increase the whole family’s chances for success in life. The bill also establishes the Interagency Council on Multigenerational Poverty to provide guidance on two-generation programs; establish a system of coordination among agencies and organizations; identify best practices; and identify gaps, research needs, and program deficiencies.

The Two-Generation Economic Act of 2017 is a significant step in the fight against poverty. It would be the first piece of legislation to incorporate a two-generation approach aimed at increasing economic security, educational success, social capital, and health and well-being for parents and children together. In seeking to better align service systems and funding streams, the bill would give states, local governments, and tribes more flexibility to develop programs that meet their specific needs. The approach outlined in S. 435 would greatly improve the effectiveness of service delivery, and it highlights the same principles and goals around which CLPHA’s Housing Is initiative was founded, to better intersect housing and other sectors in order to improve life outcomes. CLPHA has long promoted two-generation initiatives as a best practice and has been a leader in fostering partnerships to encourage innovative solutions to address generational poverty. 

The Interagency Council on Multigenerational Poverty will create a national focus on multigenerational poverty by facilitating coordinated efforts across multiple agencies and departments. This interagency collaboration will align and link fragmented systems and funding streams, resulting in holistic approaches that simultaneously address the needs of children and their parents or guardians.

A collaboration that has been in the works for several years, the Two-Generation Economic Empowerment Act includes a balance of input and interests from local service providers, families, administrators, and other stakeholders. Heinrich and Collins hope that this innovative approach will help collectively ensure that people will have an opportunity to use already existing federal resources or attract private investment to implement the two-generation approach in their community, regardless of one’s zip code.

When Senator Collins first introduced the bill, she told the story of a five-year-old girl named Arianna who was homeless, living in a tent with her family outside of Portland, ME. A state social worker worked with the Maine Homeless Veterans Alliance to provide support services to the girl and her family, who are now living in an apartment near where Arianna is attending school. This is a small-scale example of the holistic approach that Collins and Heinrich wish to achieve with their legislation.

“Just as a child’s ZIP code should not determine his or her future success, neither should bureaucratic inflexibility make it so difficult for families to get the help they need to escape intergenerational poverty,” Senator Collins said. 

You can learn more about the Two-Generation Economic Act of 2017 by reading this fact sheet that explains the principles of the bill or view a copy of the bill by clicking here.

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