The Administration launches a national demonstration project to combat rural child poverty by forming a learning community for coordinated health, human service and workforce development service delivery
Over six million Americans in rural areas live in poverty, including about 1.5 million children. And in many of these communities, high rates of poverty have persisted for generations: over 300 rural counties have had poverty rates of over 20 percent in every Census since 1980. As President Obama has stated, "A child's course in life should be determined not by the ZIP code she's born in, but by the strength of her work ethic and the scope of her dreams." In many rural places, that ZIP code equates to decreased access to critical services, fewer educational opportunities, and limited job choices.
President Obama has supported programs and strategies that respond to these challenges to better serve rural kids and families. As a result of historic investments in telehealth, for example, a rural family can access a world-class specialist from their small-town clinic; and with evidence-based home visiting, a young mother without reliable transportation can benefit from the advice and support of a nurse without even leaving home. Further, through efforts like the Promise Zones Initiative, the Administration has engaged in place- based efforts that support community-driven approaches to improve quality of life and upward mobility.
Recognizing that every child, no matter where she is born, should have an opportunity to succeed, in April the White House Rural Council launched "Rural Impact", a cross-agency effort to combat poverty and improve upward mobility in rural and tribal places. And in August, HHS announced a new demonstration project, Rural Integration Models for Parents and Children to Thrive (IMPACT), to help communities adopt a two-generation approach to addressing the needs of both vulnerable children and their parents, with the goal of increasing parents' employment and education and improving the health and well-being of their children and families. Often, programs are structured to serve either adults or children, rather than focusing on the entire family to improve outcomes. The Rural IMPACT Demonstration will help communities adopt a comprehensive, whole-family framework for addressing child poverty, such as through facilitating physical colocation of services, universal "no wrong door" intake, referral networks, shared measurement systems, and use of technology to deliver services.
Following a process led by HHS that included communities submitting letters of interest to participate in the Demonstration,today the Administration is announcing 10 rural and tribal communities from across the country that will participate in the Rural IMPACT Demonstration:
- Berea (KY), Partners for Education at Berea College (Serving Knox County, KY)
- Blanding (UT), The San Juan Foundation (Serving San Juan County, UT)
- Blytheville (AR), Mississippi County, Arkansas Economic Opportunity Commission, Inc. (Serving Mississippi County, AR)
- Hillsboro (OH), Highland County Community Action Organization, Inc. (Serving Highland County, OH)
- Hugo (OK), Little Dixie Community Action Agency, Inc. (Serving Choctaw, McCurtain and Pushmataha Counties)
- Jackson (MS), Friends of Children of Mississippi, Inc. (Serving Issaquena, Sharkey and Humphreys Counties, MS)
- Machias (ME), Community Caring Collaborative (Serving Washington County, ME)
- Marshalltown (IA), Mid‐Iowa Community Action, Inc. (Serving Marshalltown, IA)
- Oakland (MD), Garrett County Community Action Committee and the Allegany Human Resources Commission (Serving Garrett and Allegany Counties, MD)
- White Earth (MN), White Earth Reservation Tribal Council (Serving Mahnomen County and portions of Clearwater and Becker Counties)