New Research Delves into Successes, Challenges for Two-Generation Programs Serving Immigrant Families
WASHINGTON — Two-generation programs that work both with parents and children in immigrant-led households hold the potential to uplift whole families and break the cycle of intergenerational poverty, typically by weaving together high-quality early learning opportunities for children with adult education, workforce training, parenting skills and other supports for adults that can increase family stability. With little research existing on the success of practices used by these programs, recent analysis from the Aspen Institute’s Community Strategies Group, the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) and Higher Heights Consulting seeks to help fill the gap.
A series of four briefs, accompanied by an earlier set of webinars, examines different facets of 2Gen programs and practices. The series draws on survey results, interviews and peer advising and learning convenings to showcase innovative practices and discuss challenges. And each has a section on the policy implications of the services and strategies being discussed authored by Margie McHugh, director of MPI’s National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy. The briefs address:
- Helping families overcome language barriers. This brief, Growing Language Skills with Immigrant and Refugee Families: Spreading and Adapting 2Gen Working Practices, draws from the researchers’ peer learning, survey, interview and other findings to examine interventions that aim to overcome language barriers and support language acquisition for immigrant families who speak a language other than English at home. It focuses on two broad strategies: providing culturally responsive and linguistically accessible services, and offering language-learning programs that meet the needs of children and their parents.
- Building trusting relationships with immigrant families. The brief Building Trust with Immigrant and Refugee Families: Spreading and Adapting 2Gen Working Practices explores 2Gen practices that allow service organizations to build trust with immigrant families. Among the strategies discussed: intentionally hiring and retaining culturally competent staff and creating welcoming and safe spaces to meet and work with immigrant families.
- Ensuring 2Gen services are culturally competent. In Cultural Competency Secrets to Success with Immigrant and Refugee Families: Spreading and Adapting 2Gen Working Practices, the authors detail 2Gen practices that are rooted in cultural competence. The brief highlights two broad strategies that emerged from the project’s activities: providing culturally tailored services and recognizing and designing for cultural differences.
- Working with mixed-status families. Delivering services to families, youth and children whose differences in immigration status may block their access to particular programs requires specialized knowledge and intentional practices. In Better Responses to Differing Immigration Statuses: Spreading and Adapting 2Gen Working Practices, the authors showcase two effective strategies for working with mixed-status families: 1) educating staff, clients and community members about how different immigration statuses can affect eligibility for supports and 2) designing services and building partnerships that can provide a continuum of services for mixed-status families.