A relatively new approach for addressing a family’s economic security, 2Gen, is gaining recognition across the U.S. and in Colorado. As initially launched, 2Gen was designed as an approach to put a family on a path to economic security and thereby realize the family’s full potential. We believe, however, to realize a family’s full potential we must address the broader spectrum of trauma and challenges faced by both parents and children. If used to address this broader spectrum of trauma and challenges, 2Gen can serve as an effective tool in ending the cycle of child abuse and neglect.

Dr. Steven Berkowitz, MD, a professor in the Department of Psychiatry, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, explains, “Very often, children who experience trauma have parents or caregivers who were also traumatized in their youth and never received treatment to address the emotional, cognitive and behavioral consequences. Because trauma can be transmitted across generations, we see these children experience the same things that happened to their parents and caregivers.”

By treating symptoms experienced by both the parents and children, healing can begin for the entire family. The 2Gen approach allows younger generations to avoid carrying on the negative effects of trauma they’ve experienced, which in turn can mean lower incidences of child abuse and neglect in the future.

Dr. Berkowitz is the Director of the START Center, which in partnership with the Kempe Center’s IMHOFF Clinic, uses the 2Gen approach to treat families, children and caregivers, dealing with the effects of all forms of trauma.

Another example of the 2Gen approach being implemented in Colorado is the Generational Opportunities to Achieve Long-Term Success (GOALS) program, a collaborative between Arapahoe County Human Services and Family Tree. GOALS uses the 2Gen approach to address homelessness, which can offer long-term benefits for the entire family unit.

In addition to providing temporary housing to keep the family together, GOALS teaches parents how to financially support their family, connects children with educational opportunities, and offers other services simultaneously to create healthy individuals and a stable family unit. Addressing both the physical and mental needs across generations offers a greater chance of breaking the cycle of poverty many families find themselves mired in.

At Kempe, we know that when supported by the right programs which address a family’s needs holistically, children are more likely to avoid – or heal – from experiences of child abuse and neglect.

Learn more about the START Center and the Kempe Center’s IMHOFF Clinic, as well as the 2Gen approach here.