Social capital development in two-generation programs : fostering connections for children and parents
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A growing body of evidence supports the use of two-generation approaches to address the economic security of low-income and poor families in the United States. Two-generation programs and policies seek to mitigate the effect of poverty in two contiguous generations – by helping young children get the best possible start in life while helping their parents become economically self-sufficient. Recent research has shown that successful two-generation programs all share three components, to a greater or lesser degree: an education component for parents and children, an economic support component, and a social capital component. There is a substantial evidence base to support the fact that education and economic supports lead to positive returns in wellbeing and family economic security and that they are critical components of two-generation approaches. However little research has been done on the role social capital can play in two-generation approaches. The purpose of this report is to analyze social capital in relation to its role and manifestation in two-generation programs and its effects relating to outcomes for low-income and poor families. Research for this report was conducted through a review of the extant literature, program evaluations, and case studies as well as information-gathering interviews with on-the-ground two-generation programs. The research suggests that embedding social capital development into two-generation programs has the potential to be a powerful economic development strategy. Overall, the existing research supports the fact that development of social capital is critical to the well-being of individuals and society as a whole. Preliminary evidence supports the notion that social capital formation is a critical component of the two-generation framework. However, more research is needed to substantiate this claim and provide evidence of the role social capital formation plays in these approaches. Additionally creating an evidence base at the policy and programmatic levels will be critical in order to expand and make the case for family economic security strategies based on or incorporating social capital development.