By Jeff Grissom, Director, San Diego County DCSS
On April 24, San Diego DCSS hosted a one day workshop on intergenerational poverty. The workshop was facilitated by Jodi Pfarr, a consultant who specializes in strategies aimed at mitigating the cycle of poverty, and based on the book “Bridges out of Poverty.” The workshop provided insight behind intergenerational poverty in America and gave attendees a mental model illuminating the interplay between government and those mired in poverty.
During the workshop, Pfarr addressed some of the common causes of poverty and challenged attendees to focus on some of the region-specific issues behind poverty in San Diego. The workshop also explored how agencies can look at ways to streamline services and forms to better serve the families in their communities and allow those in poverty to have a voice on solutions toward change. Attendees left the workshop with a rich understanding of how social class affects everybody and how relationships, whether governmental or personal, have a profound effect on one’s ability to escape poverty.
There were 112 attendees, including staff from the Chief Administrative Office, the Probation Department, Sheriff’s Department, Public Defender’s Office, District Attorney’s Office, as well as the Health and Human Services Agency. The event was sponsored by the County’s Chief Administrative Office and is continuing to be used within the County.
The workshop was the result of a new project San Diego DCSS started. In the winter of 2016, San Diego DCSS put together an Innovation Team consisting of a cross-section of 12 staff charged with thinking of ways to combat intergenerational poverty. During the Innovation Team’s research, they found Pfarr’s presentation and recommended showing it to others in the department, noting how the concepts of her presentation would help case managers empathize and relate better to child support case participants.
Three days after the workshop, San Diego DCSS held an Idea Lab where 40 staff, including the Innovation Team, discussed lessons learned from the workshop and strategies to fight poverty. San Diego DCSS plans to bring Pfarr back so she can deliver her workshop to others in the department and continues to develop strategies on how child support can help break the cycle of poverty.