Education, from early childhood through postsecondary, is a core component of two-generation approaches. There is a strong correlation between low levels of educational attainment and poverty. Only 10 percent of those with a bachelor’s degree are poor. Yet more than 30 percent of those with a high school diploma or less are poor. The poverty rate does not decrease until people have at least some education beyond high school. In addition, there is a strong link between maternal education and outcomes for children, particularly school readiness for kindergartners. There is also some evidence that parent engagement can further enhance positive outcomes.
Postsecondary education is increasingly important to obtain a job that offers family-supporting wages, but students who are also parents face significant challenges to college completion. Nearly a quarter of all college students today are parents, and 13 percent of all college students are single parents. Programs that provide education and skills training to adults often view children as a barrier to participation; a better model would engage whole families.
Meanwhile, programs focused on children often see parents merely as facilitators of their children’s education and don’t offer opportunities for parents to increase their own education attainment and marketable job skills.
The MDHS has created a division of Workforce Development and will be working closely with 13 Mississippi Community Colleges, Department of Education and the Department of Employment Security. We have turned our frontline eligibility workers into case managers so they can follow the client throughout the entire process and help the client to self-sufficiency. Currently, have a partnership campaign with MHSAA to let high schoolers know the importance of staying in school. The State Early Childhood Advisory Council of Mississippi is a great resource to make sure all of MS agencies are on the same page so we can deliver services more efficiently and effectively. Our Youth Services division offers mentoring, counseling and post counseling through various programs to keep the family together and from needing our services in the future.