Friday, September 25, 2015

Communities selected for federal project to reduce rural poverty, increase economic opportunities

Ten rural and tribal communities have been selected to participate in the Rural Integration Models for Parents and Children to Thrive (RURAL Impact) project, a collaboration between the U.S. Health & Human Services Department and the U.S. Department of Agriculture "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," the White House announced today.

"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," states a White House release.

"The sad reality is that one of every four rural children lives in poverty," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a conference call. He said the goal of the project is to improve a basic understanding of the available federal programs for assistance and health and to make sure they are provided in a coordinated fashion to pave the way for health and economic opportunities in rural areas.

The 10 communities have child poverty rates ranging from 17.8 percent to 53.9 percent, Vilsack said. The communities are:
  • Berea, (Ky.), Partners for Education at Berea College (Knox County, Kentucky)
  • Blanding, (Utah), The San Juan Foundation (San Juan County, Utah)
  • Blytheville, (Ark.), Mississippi County, Arkansas Economic Opportunity Commission, Inc. (Mississippi County, Arkansas)
  • Hillsboro, (Ohio), Highland County Community Action Organization, Inc. (Highland County, Ohio)
  • Hugo, (Oklahoma), Little Dixie Community Action Agency, Inc. (Choctaw, McCurtain and Pushmataha counties)
  • Jackson, (Miss.), Friends of Children of Mississippi, Inc. (Issaquena, Sharkey and Humphreys counties)
  • Machias, (Maine), Community Caring Collaborative (Washington County, Maine) Marshalltown (Iowa), Mid‐Iowa Community Action, Inc. (Marshalltown, Iowa)
  • Oakland, (Md.), Garrett County Community Action Committee and the Allegany Human Resources Commission (Garrett and Allegany Counties)
  • White Earth, (Minn.), White Earth Reservation Tribal Council (Mahnomen County and portions of Clearwater and Becker counties) 
Communities will receive:
  •  A six-month planning period with targeted technical assistance (TA) to help communities link programs and services
  • At least six months of additional TA to begin the implementation period, during which sites will work to address system, policy and program changes targeting alleviation of child poverty
  • Partnership with CNCS to develop projects to place AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers, helping local partners develop new or enhance existing antipoverty programming, map community assets, and build local community capacity
  • Participation in a peer learning network to facilitate the sharing of best practices among sites facing similar opportunities and challenges
  • Support from a federal inter-agency team to identify and address barriers to cross-programmatic work.

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