Most of the authors in this issue of Future of Children focus on a single strategy for helping both adults and children that could become a component of two-generation programs. Lindsay Chase-Lansdale and Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, on the other hand, look at actual programs with an explicit two-generation focus that have been tried in the past or are currently under way.
These explicitly two-generation programs have sought to build human capital across generations by combining education or job training for adults with early childhood education for their children. Chase-Lansdale and Brooks-Gunn explain the theories behind these programs and review the evidence for their efficacy. A first wave of such programs in the 1980s and 1990s produced mostly disappointing results, but the evaluations they left behind pointed to promising new directions. More recently, a second wave of two-generation programs—the authors dub them “Two-Generation 2.0”—has sought to rectify the flaws of earlier efforts, largely by building strong connections between components for children and adults, by ensuring that children and adults receive services of equal duration and intensity, and by incorporating advances in both education and workforce development. These Two-Generation 2.0 programs are still in their infancy, and we have yet to see clear evidence that they can achieve their goals or be implemented cost-effectively at scale. Nonetheless, Chase-Lansdale and Brooks-Gunn write, the theoretical justification for these programs is strong, their early results are promising, and the time is ripe for innovation, experimentation, and further study. (author abstract)