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AAP assisting in federal effort to reduce rural poverty :

November 22, 2016

A federal initiative aiming to tackle rural poverty is making strides in communities across the country with assistance from the Academy.

The agencies recently wrapped up the first year of the Rural Integration Models for Parents and Children to Thrive (IMPACT) Demonstration, which targets both children and their parents.

“In Year 1, substantial Rural IMPACT resources were dedicated to helping sites better define their two-generation focus and plan, develop, or refine service models to reduce poverty over the long term by serving parents and children together,” federal authorities said in a new report on the program.

Roughly 16.2% of people in rural areas live in poverty, including 23% of rural children, according to the report. Rural poverty presents unique challenges in that employment opportunities, educational options, transportation, social services and health care all may be limited.

The White House Rural Council announced the Rural IMPACT Demonstration in 2015 with the help of numerous federal agencies and technical assistance from the Academy and the Community Action Partnership.

The initiative launched at 10 sites in Arkansas, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma and Utah. Taking a two-generation approach, it aims to help parents with resources like job training, family coaching and substance abuse services while also giving children access to high-quality child care, early education and health programs.

“You have to work with helping the parent do what they really want to do which is to really nurture and stimulate their children,” AAP President Benard P. Dreyer, M.D., FAAP, said. “But if they’re stressed out by poverty, if they don’t have the resources because of poverty, and if they are low education on top of that, it may be very difficult for them to do what they really want to do.”

With funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Academy planned in-person and web-based meetings, managed coaches for each site and supported site visits by the federal team.

The 10 sites now are sharing their successes and barriers with each other, and moving into the second year with stronger partnerships and plans. Dr. Dreyer said the Academy’s involvement has been a good match.

“We have a specific agenda … where we’re trying to decrease poverty, improve child health and well-being,” he said. “So this … is exactly the kind of effort we’re looking to work with and to understand how we can spread this kind of effort.”

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