By Meghan McCann
DID YOU KNOW: NCSL’s 44th annual Legislative Summit is now in the rearview mirror. More than 5,300 attendees participated in 129 sessions featuring nearly 400 speakers. Visit NCSL’s Legislative Summit homepage to find session material and recordings.
NCSL’s Children and Families program covers many human services issues, including child support and family law, child welfare, early care and education, welfare and poverty.
Highlights from NCSL’s 2018 Legislative Summit
NCSL’s Children and Families Program hosted sessions at Legislative Summit, covering a range of issues, from early brain development and foster care, to two-generation strategies and childhood trauma.
Healthy Starts: Tools for Early Childhood Success
Children spend their early years with parents and other caretakers in a variety of settings, all of which have impacts on their growth. What are the building blocks they need for a healthy start and successful development? These questions and more were answered during the Healthy Starts: Tools for Early Childhood Success session with a panel of experts, including legislators from New York, South Carolina and Washington.
Rethinking Foster Care
The Rethinking Foster Care session provided an overview of the federal Family First Prevention Services Act and ways in which state lawmakers are helping older youth in foster care overcome barriers to a successful transition to adulthood. This included California’s efforts to create a comprehensive system of supports and services for youth. Alaska legislators discussed opportunities for states in the new federal law, including efforts to support foster parents. A highlight of the session was a young person currently in California’s extended foster care system sharing her personal story of challenges and triumphs.
Multigenerational Approach to Family Well-Being
NCSL launched a Two-Generation Strategies Toolkit in a session titled Multigenerational Approach to Family Well-Being. In addition to releasing this new resource, participants heard from experts from The Annie E. Casey Foundation, Ascend at the Aspen Institute and legislators and legislative staff from Connecticut and Utah. The legislators provided honest and inspiring insight into their efforts to address intergenerational poverty and offered advice to their colleagues in the room.
Childhood Trauma: The Everyday Problem That is Running States Dry
In a deep-dive session, attendees examined the human and financial costs of adverse childhood experiences on states’ health, human services, criminal justice and education systems. Experts from ZERO TO THREE, Child Trends and the Alaska and New Mexico legislatures provided high-level insights and concrete policy options. Thirteen-year-old author Madison Strempek and Alabama lawyer and advocate Liz Huntley shared their personal stories of overcoming adversity.
Find more session material from the health and human services track on the Legislative Summit website.
Two-Generation Strategies Toolkit
In the United States, 1 in 4 parents lives in poverty, and 20 percent of children live in a household with income below the federal poverty level. A new approach to help families break the cycle of poverty is taking hold in states across the country. Called many things, from two-generation and intergenerational, to multi-generational or whole-family approaches, the idea of addressing the needs of children and parents is the same.
NCSL has launched a new Two-Generation Strategies Toolkit to help state legislators understand the underlying issue these approaches can address, what these programs look like on the ground and the important role of and opportunities for state legislators to engage in these efforts.
Early Learning Fellows
States are leading efforts to improve early childhood outcomes while also addressing challenges with governance, financing, data systems and teacher training/professional development. These topics and more will be addressed through NCSL’s Early Learning Fellows program. The 2018 cohort of 30 legislators and five legislative staff from 23 states will participate in two face-to-face meetings and two webinars throughout the year. Learn more about the Early Learning Fellows webinars, including access to archived webinars and information about upcoming learning opportunities.
Child Welfare Fellows
The first cohort of NCSL's Child Welfare Fellows Program met in Denver in July. Twenty-two legislators and staff from 17 states came together to exchange ideas and hear from experts on the child welfare system. The fellows will meet a second time in November and will participate in two webinars as part of their commitment to the program. Throughout the fellowship, NCSL staff will support the fellows in the execution of their action plans and help them to become more knowledgeable about the child welfare systems.
Meghan McCann is a senior policy specialist with NCSL’s Children and Families Program. She covers child support, family law and anti-poverty issues.