WASHINGTON, Sept. 25, 2015 – The Obama administration has chosen 10 rural communities for a demonstration project where a handful of federal agencies, including USDA, will team up and try out new strategies for bringing families out of poverty.

The 10 Rural IMPACT demonstration sites will receive “targeted” technical assistance to help them integrate and make available at a single location federal programs that provide critical services for children and adults living in rural areas. IMPACT is short for Integration Models for Parents and Children to Thrive.

Once incorporated, these “two generational” programs can address the needs of parents and children simultaneously, meaning there’s “no wrong door” for intakes and referrals, and families can benefit from a more streamlined safety net, the White House said.

The locales selected for the pilots have child poverty rates ranging from 17.8 percent to 53.9 percent, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a teleconference with reporters. In rural areas nationwide, one in every four children lives in poverty.

The selected towns, and their partners, are:

Berea, Kentucky, and the Partners for Education at Berea College; Blanding, Utah, and the San Juan Foundation; Blytheville, Arkansas, and the Arkansas Economic Opportunity Commission; Hillsboro, Ohio, and the Highland County Community Action Organization; Hugo, Oklahoma, and the Little Dixie Community Action Agency; Jackson, Mississippi, and the Friends of Children of Mississippi; Machias, Maine, and the Community Caring Collaborative; Marshalltown, Iowa, and MidIowa Community Action; Oakland, Maryland, and the Garrett County Community Action Committee and the Allegany Human Resources Commission; White Earth, Minnesota, and the White Earth Reservation Tribal Council.

According to the initiatives’ lead departments – the Health and Human Services Department and USDA – these communities will receive technical assistance for six months as they plan to link federal programs and services.

Then, the towns will have another six months to implement their plans in coordination with AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers. According to the White House, participating in IMPACT allows communities to exchange best practices and build program management capacity.

Mary Wakefield, HHS acting deputy secretary, said bridging the gaps between federal programs should help these communities “leverage opportunities” across the federal government and through local partnership to fight child poverty in rural areas. “The aims are largely driven and set locally,” Wakefield said, which means the pilots have the flexibility to bring about “exactly the kind of impact we are striving for.”


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